Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden (a review)

The Richest Season by Maryann McFaddenThe 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 ReviewJenn’s Bookshelfmedieval bookwormSmoky Mountain Family Historian

Reviews more in line with mine can be found here:
a lovely shore breezeFeminist Review (yup, they reviewed this book twice!) • Reader for LifeTraci’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.


  1. Wow! I find it interesting that opinions seem to be split down the middle on this one.

  2. I don't do predictable well and the lack of conflict would be a problem for me.

  3. I've still got this on my shelf and just haven't gotten to it yet. I'm not in big hurry especially with opinions on it going each way.

  4. You point out some interesting issues, Avis. I haven't read this book but recalled it receiving mixed reviews.

    I had no idea that it and The Lace Reader were originally self-published.


  5. A bit late to be responding to your comments now, but here I go anyway!

    Kathy, yeah, they do seem to be fairly evenly divided. It's not that Maryann McFadden doesn't write well, it's just that I knew exactly what was going to happen almost all the way through...

    Ti, I'd recommend you stay away from this one then!

    Dar, if you do get around to reading it, I'll be curious to see what you think!

    Shana, I knew The Lace Reader was originally self-published, but I didn't realize this one was until I put together this review and started looking for other reviews online.

  6. Apologies, by the way, for not replying to your comments sooner!