‘When leaving is just the beginning… ‘
Season of Second Chances is the latest novel from bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander (aka Denise Deegan). It is described as a novel about ‘family, love and learning to be kind to yourself…A heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.’
Set in the stunning West Cork, I knew that I would warm to this book immediately but what I hadn’t expected was a few tears. Grace Sullivan returns to her home of Killrowan, a small sleepy village, where she will take over her father’s shared GP practice following his retirement. Grace arrives with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, from Dublin, from a life far removed from the rural and relaxed pace of her youth. Grace carries personal baggage, a secret she wishes to keep so, but she is heavily reliant on her children’s complicity in this.
Grace’s father Des is thrilled to have Grace back in the fold. He has missed out on years of his grandchildren’s growing up and is delighted when they move in with him. He is aware that Grace is hiding something from him but he too is also hiding the full impact of his health from her and from the community at large. Des was a stalwart of Killrowan. He was the GP, a respected man, a man who the locals admired but recently Des has locked himself away and kept very much to himself. Grace is initially taken aback by her father’s health but his courage and his love for her are strong. As they bond after the lost years, truths spill out and Des is shocked and outraged with what he hears. He has been absent from her life for many years but now he will do anything to keep his family safe.
Grace, Jack and Holly must establish a new life here in Killrowan, but it is not without it’s challenges. Jack and Holly have their own issues. Moving from a Dublin city school to a local school in West Cork is a shock for them both. Jack, sixteen-years-old, played hockey and had lots of friends in Dublin. His life has been upended and living here with ‘culchies’ is not what he had planned for his life. He knows they need to be here and he knows why, but he is afraid, lonely and angry. Holly, fifteen-years-old, is very reticent about school. A bit of a loner, Holly always struggled in Dublin. Could Killrowan be more accepting? With her South Dublin accent, would the locals accept her?
Grace sees her children. She is aware of their struggles, but Grace is just about staying above water struggling to keep her family together, struggling to keep her family safe. What Grace had not expected was how her return to Killrowan would be discussed and dissected by the local community. She had ‘notions’ apparently (and, yes, I can concur, us Corkonions pay little heed to those with ‘notions’!! ). Grace has many battles on hand but she is strong and it is this determination and strength that she will need to get her through these difficult and testing times.
Season of Second Chances is a book that feels very authentic and heart-felt. Denise Deegan (Aimee Alexander) knows the area of West Cork very well. She knows the people and it’s rhythms, having holidayed there for years. In a recent article for The Southern Star, Denise said that ‘there is something soothing, healing and restorative about West Cork’, and never was a truer word spoken. Bringing the beauty of West Cork to the reader is important to Denise and this shines true in her writing. With Grace Sullivan’s story set against this backdrop, Season of Second Chances is a very uplifting and inspiring tale about taking back control, about family, about friendships and most importantly about rediscovering who you really are. Difficult themes of abuse, illness, teenage angst, mental health and self-belief are all handled very sensitively. The characters are all beautifully drawn out, creating a very strong visual for the reader.
A beautiful tribute to West Cork, Season of Second Chances is a very engaging, heart-warming and emotive read. And…..in case you were wondering:
“Though I can’t return to West Cork physically, right now, I do have an alternative. I can start a sequel to Season of Second Chances. I can become my main character, Grace. I can live her life. And return to West Cork that way. Problem solved.”
– Denise Deegan (Aimee Alexander)
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.