Description (from Goodreads):
A world of possibilities opens up for Joy Harkness when she sets out on a journey that’s going to show her the importance of friendship, love, and what makes a house a home
Coming-of-age can happen at any age. Joy Harkness had built a university career and a safe life in New York, protected and insulated from the intrusions and involvements of other people. When offered a position at Amherst College, she impulsively leaves the city, and along with generations of material belongings, she packs her equally heavy emotional baggage. A tumbledown Victorian house proves an unlikely choice for a woman whose family heirlooms have been boxed away for years. Nevertheless, this white elephant becomes the home that changes Joy forever. As the restoration begins to take shape, so does her outlook on life, and the choices she makes over paint chips, wallpaper samples, and floorboards are reflected in her connection to the co-workers who become friends and friendships that deepen. A brilliant, quirky, town fixture of a handyman guides the renovation of the house and sparks Joy’s interest to encourage his personal and professional growth. Amid the half-wanted attention of the campus’s single, middle-aged men, known as “the Coyotes,”and the legitimate dramas of her close-knit community, Joy learns that the key to the affection of family and friends is being worthy of it, and most important, that second chances are waiting to be discovered within us all.
The reader is introduced to Joy, a 48-year old women from New York. She has built an impressive career and she is successful, but along other people, she do not know how she should act. She got married when she was young, but after couple of years of the marriage, she divorced and moved from St. Louis to New York City. She moved to the city with big dreams. She had always dreamed about her life in New York, but when she got there, she realized that it is nothing like she dreamed about. She goes on years, just by doing her job and not getting to know people. When she is offered a job from Amherst College, Massachusetts, she leaves the city and begins a journey which changes her life.
Without much of a thought, Joy buys a Victorian House, which is on a bad condition. My bad, I really mean bad. Everyone in the city recommend her to call to Teddy Hennessy, a handyman who has specialized on renovating Victorian houses. Teddy renovates the house, and at the same time, makes it feel like home. Sooner or later, Joy notices, that without Teddy, the house does not feel like home. But it is not that easy, even though they both are adults. Teddy is utterly blind when it comes to his possissive mother. Can Teddy start a life of his own or will he be ruled by his mother? What can Joy do to make Teddy choose her?
Even though Joy is a lot older than me, I was somewhat able to identify with her. She is not a very social person. She likes to be on her own, read novels and poetry. She does not know how to act with children, I get the sense that she does not even like them that much. I had to pick this part from the book which was totally hilarious and reminded me of myself:
I was left with four little girls, and I was on my own.
"Okay," I said, searching for suitable subjects to discuss, "who likes Jane Austen?" This was met with complete silence.
Jackie, the oldest and the most sophiscated of the girls, looked at me with furrowed brow, as though she couldn't quite remember. "Who is she?"
When Joy moves to Amherst, her life changes. First she feels that other people are trying to push themselves into her life. She feels like she just wants to be on her own, like she did in NYC. But when she gets to know these people better; Josie and Fran from her work, people from her work project and the other people of the town, she notices that she actually likes them, and eventually she starts to see them as her family. It is interesting to follow how Joy changes and in a way grows up throuhg the time she spends with these new people who eventually take an important place in her life.
I really liked this novel. It made a difference to my current reading. I've been mostly reading YA novelsrecently, and this definitely wasn't YA novel. This is one of those books I would love to give to my mother and tell her to read it. Too bad she does not read novels in English. I recommend this novel especially to women at the age of Joy, the narrator of this novel but for others too. If you come by this novel, you definity should give it a try.
I want to thank Jason Liebman from Henry Holt and Company for providing me a review copy of this gorgeous novel.