The Richest Season
The Richest Season is a familiar tale to any romance reader, occasional or obsessive: a wife and mother, disillusioned with her compressed, tepid worldview and identity, flees to an exotic locale in order to find herself. In this case, the wife and mother in question is Joanna Harrison. An empty nester with a distant corporate husband, she spontaneously decides to run away to a new life on Pawleys Island. She becomes a caretaker of an ailing older woman, Grace, meets some colorful local characters and begins to get in touch with—well, the story unfolds predictably from there.
McFadden does throw in a few surprising garnishes along the way. Grace, the older woman with a terminal illness, is one; her story has some interesting parallels to Joanna’s as Grace struggles to come to terms with her death and life. Paul, the husband left behind, also plays a surprisingly large role in the book, with his own chapters of narrative that give him some complexity and humanity. There is also a pleasing metaphor centering on the migration habits of mother sea turtles; however, the book doesn’t venture much outside its own comfort zone.
Some books take over your life from the first page. You spend your days either reading them or halfheartedly going through the motions while yearning to be reading them. Then there are books that fit into the cracks of your life, filling it up the days instead of consuming them. These books are read in odd snippets, right before bed or while waiting for toast to pop up or whenever it’s within grabbing distance and the time is right. The Richest Season, is of the second species. It’s entertaining enough to pass the time with while waiting for the sauce to thicken or while brushing your teeth. It won’t keep you breathlessly awake until you read the last word, but you will drift off to sleep with a warm heart and quiet mind, confident in happy endings.