I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Season of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander: independently published on 5th April, it’s available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
I do have a little confession to make. I’ve had a copy of this book on my kindle for rather a long time – from when the book had a different title (I do like the new one much better!) and the author sent it to me for an early review, just at the point when the world turned upside down and I feared for a little while that I’d never be able to read again. But these things pass (phew!) and I was so delighted when I saw Anne was organising the tour as this was a book I really, really wanted to catch up with.
Have you read a book from Aimee Alexander before? Or anything by her alter ego Denise Deegan? I’ve read a few of Denise’s books over the years – mostly before the blog existed – but I was so delighted to rediscover her writing with the quite wonderful Through The Barricades back in 2017, a story of “friendship, love, war and revolution” that totally blew me away (you’ll find my review here) and thoroughly deserved its place in my Books of the Year list. I’ve read and really enjoyed one of her Aimee Alexander books too, way back in 2016 – The Accidental Life of Greg Millar, and you’ll find my review here.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the author – Linda (of Linda’s Book Bag fame) was kind enough to invite us both for a lovely lunch – and, as well as liking her very much, I know how very passionate she is about her writing. My goodness, she must be so delighted with this one…
When leaving is just the beginning…
The long-awaited novel of family, love and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.
Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or even that she’s running. She’d like to keep it that way.
Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a very real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the children adapt to life in a small rural community? Can she live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?
Season of Second Chances is Grace’s story. It’s also the story of a community that chooses the title “Young Doctor Sullivan” for her before she even arrives. It’s the story of Des who served the villagers all his life and now feels a failure for developing Parkinson’s disease. And it’s the story of struggling teens, an intimidating receptionist, a handsome American novelist escaping his past, and a dog called Benji who needs a fresh start of his own.
Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.
Perfect for fans of Call The Midwife, Virgin River, Doc Martin, The Durrells and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.
Well, I now have another location to add to my bucket list – it’s West Cork, and the fictional but typical village of Killrowan is so perfectly drawn in this lovely book. Of course, like every small rural village, it does have its downsides – the suspicion of incomers, the hotbed of gossip, the way it’s impossible to avoid everyone knowing your business. But if ever there was a location crying out for a Sunday night TV series based on its community, this really must be it.
Grace’s father Des has been the local well-loved doctor for many years, recently retired because of his failing health. His daughter Grace is also a doctor – after fleeing Dublin and a toxic marriage, accompanied by her teenage children Jack and Holly, she’s poised to take over her father’s practice. But she does have a considerable mountain to climb – the surgery might be overflowing, but they all want to see the other doctor, not “Young Doctor Sullivan”, whatever her capabilities or qualifications. As well as that, she has two displaced youngsters torn away from their former city lives, upset about the circumstances of their departure, struggling with the whole idea of attending local schools and needing to fit in with the “culchies”. And then there’s the constant threat hanging over them that her husband might follow in pursuit, regardless of the injunction against him.
A particular strength of this book is the drawing of its characters. First and central, there’s the Sullivan family itself, drawn with tremendous love. Grace herself is wonderful, a strong woman who’s been battered by everything life has thrown at her: undeterred by all the suspicion and opposition she encounters, she slowly tries to carve herself a place in the community that doesn’t depend on her being her father’s daughter. And while I’m not always a fan of teenage characters, I really loved both Jack and Holly – the potentially dangerous secrets Jack keeps, the way Holly strives to “belong” (her efforts to pick up the local accent are wonderful), the way they slowly adapt to their new lives. But the character who really made this book for me was father Des – his delight at having his family back, his fierce love and desire to protect them, his closeness with his grandchildren, the lengths he’ll go to so that they can stay with him. He’s a character drawn with such warmth and love, and I just adored him.
But every character in this book, however minor, is equally perfectly drawn – patients visiting the surgery (and I really liked receptionist Myra, and the way her character slowly unfurled), the islanders and the ferry, the hairdresser who turns Grace into a new woman, the local handyman (a former friend rediscovered, with his own secrets), the hotel where she stays on her island visits (the hotel owner is just magnificent!), the customers and staff at the Coffee Cove. There’s even a reclusive American novelist, encountered first in the surgery after an unfortunate brush with a barbed wire fence – a sad past, some lovely book-related touches, and a developing relationship that was just perfectly handled. I really, really liked the way the author introduced the individual stories of others alongside those of the family itself, little side threads that add real depth and richness to the story.
The writing is just wonderful – the author is a natural storyteller, and this was a book I entirely disappeared into as I read, totally engaged by its characters, absorbed in the story and immersed in their lives. There’s some real drama too, and a convincing edge of threat and danger to the family at times that makes the pages turn even more quickly – all entirely convincing, edge-of-the-seat writing at its very best. But it’s the overwhelming feeling of love between this book’s pages that will most stay with me – a story of resilience and bravery, of starting over, of support and friendship, of the importance of family. I was so delighted when I saw that the author is planning to take us back to Killrowan again – I loved everything about this book, I really loved this family, and I can’t wait….
About the author
Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.
Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur.