I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
When 48-year-old Columbia English professor Joy Harkness receives the offer of a lifetime to teach at Amherst College, she jumps at the chance to escape her unsatisfying New York life and start over. Emotionally shut-down and socially awkward, Joy begins a journey of self-discovery in the most unlikely of places. Her journey begins with an ill-advised purchase of a crumbling Victorian home in need of a great deal of repair and renovation. Joy hires 35-year-old Teddy Hennessy to help her bring the Victorian back to life. Teddy helps Joy connect to the house and hidden parts of herself through the renovation process. Her new job also forces her to connect with other people in a way she never has before. As Joy builds a life for herself in Amherst, she finds that she can't disconnect from others the way she used to and must learn about romance and friendship while discovering herself.
While this book is fairly predictable in terms of its plot, I found it utterly engrossing and entertaining. Sex and the City was groundbreaking in that it revealed the full social and romantic lives of women after 30. It is nice to see a new trend in books that show life after 40. Joy is proof that you are never too old to change and grow. While on the surface, Joy seems completely unlikeable and unpleasant, you can't help but root for her to succeed. I also found myself longing to own my own crumbling Victorian as you read about the wonderful transformation that it goes through. I also enjoyed how the book demonstrated nontraditional ideas about community and family. Sometimes, family constitutes those individuals that you choose rather than those you are born with.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. I really enjoyed this book. It was a light but entertaining read. I appreciated following Joy's evolution. While not everyone in the book gets a happy ending, it is still a "feel-good" read.