The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden is the story of Joanne, a corporate wife who has moved over a dozen times in 25 years of marriage. When her husband gets promoted again and doesn’t even discuss it with her, she decides to leave him. The story is told from the alternating points of view of the three main characters: Joanne, her husband Paul and Grace, the woman Joanne eventually lives with.
Ironically, one of the first things that stood out for me early on in the novel is that Joanne and Grace don’t immediately take to each other. It seems to me that conflict between women is too rarely explored in fiction, so I found this refreshing and was interested to see where the author would go from there. Unfortunately, the conflict between Joanne and Grace is almost the only conflict that occurs in the novel (other than between Joanne and her husband, obviously). Although the story has potential, in the end everything comes too easily to Joanne and her family, which makes the novel far too predictable (not to mention unbelievable). Similarly, I found Paul’s flashes of insight early in the novel jarring, as they seemed too out of character. Here is a man who is used to getting what he wants and who has spent years ignoring his wife’s feelings, yet within a couple of weeks of her leaving, he comes to the realization that “He was little more than a rat ... working its way through an expensive, beautifully decorated maze” (p. 44). I had trouble believing he would be that self-aware that soon in the story.
Despite all this, this is a sweet story and there are a couple of touching scenes near the end of the book that I loved. If you are in the mood for something light and you don’t mind a predictable plot, this might be for you.
Other, more favourable reviews can be found here:
Feminist Review • Jenn’s Bookshelf • medieval bookworm • Smoky Mountain Family Historian
Reviews more in line with mine can be found here:
a lovely shore breeze • Feminist Review (yup, they reviewed this book twice!) • Reader for Life • Traci’s Book Bag
The News & Observer published an interesting article about this book and The Lace Reader (both of which were originally self-published).
Thank you to Hyperion Books for sending me this book to review.