Short-story writer and first-time novelist Shyer spins more storylines than she can manage in this richly detailed but sluggish family drama. Set in Scarsdale, N.Y., the narrative opens with a car accident that sends Gilbert Kessler into a coma. His wife, Julie, who was driving, emerges uninjured. Wracked with guilt, Julie is unable to let go of her dying husband, but her daughters Karen, Susanna and Gaby refuse to let their mother wallow in self-pity; they suggest she take tango lessons. Julie reluctantly agrees, and she soon finds herself falling in love with her much younger instructor. Meanwhile, Gaby is torn between a married lover and her fianc; Susanna can't seem to come to terms with her German husband's love for his fatherland as well as his refusal to have a child with her; and Karen realizes that being married to a much older man holds less appeal than it did when she was younger. Although Shyer meticulously describes each character's predicament, bland dialogue and generic observations about life keep the women from finding their own voices and truly coming alive. Unexpected plot twists compensate somewhat for the novel's slow pacing, but a hurried and abrupt conclusion will leave readers with more questions than answers.
Quick read - good story line.
Loved this book. First time I had read this author.(Marlene Fanta Shyer) You have to read for yourself to understand how good this book is.
Following the engagement party of one of their daughters, Gilbert and Julie Kessler argue over who will drive. Julie is exhausted, but Gilbert is intoxicated. Julie wins the argument, but falls asleep at the wheel. The subsequent car crash leaves her without a scratch and Gilbert in a coma.
Julie is wracked with guilt, but her three daughters (Karen, Susanna, and Gaby) refuse to allow her to destroy herself. They manage to arrange for her to take Tango lessons, not even thinking their mom would begin to fall in love with her younger instructor. Gaby is torn between two lovers; Susanna struggles with her husband's refusal to have children; and Karen feels trapped in her marriage to a much older man. Happiness is not even an illusion for the four disconsolate female Kesslers.
SECOND CHANCE is an interesting relationship drama that would have had a better chance of success if Marlene Fanta Shyer broke the four subplots into a quartet of novels. At times, the story line engages the reader, but fans never feel compassion towards the emotional baggage of any one character because too many feelings overflow the story line. Although SECOND CHANCES isn't perfect, the author is very talented and just needs time to perfect her craft a bit better.