Several years ago, I was searching for new books by authors I hadn’t read before. Every so often that winter, I took a trip out to the local Borders (gosh, I miss that store!) for a latte and a round of book browsing. Like most of my choices for leisure reading, I was looking for a book with that certain element of “fluff.” I found Take a Chance one Me by Jill Mansell. She has since become one of my favorite authors to read.
Set in England, Cleo’s and Abbie’s – two sisters aged 15 years a part – lives are turned upside down by the secrets the men in their lives kept from them. Cleo believes she has finally found “the one” only to find out he has been anything but honest with her. While Abbie discovers her husband has been keeping a secret that rocks her marriage to its core. To make matters worse for Cleo, her teenage nemesis, Johnny, is back in town and grating on her nerves more than ever. (Or is he really? 😉 ) With a long string of supporting characters, Cleo and Abbie discover to get to that place in life for which you yearn, sometimes you just have to take a chance.
While I enjoyed Take a Chance on Me, I have mixed emotions about it. There were a lot of characters. I really mean a lot of characters. At first it was hard to keep track of them, and then as the story progressed, I felt like I didn’t get to learn enough about any of them. However, the other side of that is, I was really impressed with Mansell and her ability for intertwining the lives of more than 7 characters together. The pieces of every character’s story fit together. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it’s definitely be a good read for the beach or pool….or even a rainy day by the fire!
…takes us to another place and time.” Even though my husband thought it was a little weird when I said it, I find the lyrics to Kenny Chesney’s song “I Go Back” to be so true.
Last week as I was driving to Shop Rite, I heard the song “The Way You Love Me” by Faith Hill on the radio. Instantly, I was transferred back to 2001 when I was a college freshman. While it’s not one of my all-time favorite songs, I believe it was a favorite of mine at the time. When I got to a red light, I rolled my windows down and enjoyed some fresh air as the notes filtered through the car’s speakers. I found myself remembering so many things about my everyday life 16 years ago. (Was it really 16 years ago?!? How in the world has that much time passed? I guess that’s a story for another day.) Anyway, I remembered the clothes I had, my favorite foods, my Spanish professor who taught more of a contemporary issues class rather than Spanish I, Friday nights watching Pretty Woman (I wasn’t quite the partier at 19). Thinking back on it I smiled, and knowing that it was really 16 years ago, not just 5 like it seems, makes me laugh. I guess the saying is true, the older you get, the faster life goes by!
I make it no secret that I love my hometown area, and the setting for The Other Side of Later reflects that. The streets, the park, the businesses are based upon places that have a very special place in my heart. The Shellfish, where Julia and Drew have their first date, is no different. The Shellfish represents the restaurant I hope everyone has. It’s the place you and friends head to catch up; it’s the place you and your spouse (or significant other) go for date night; it’s the place with familiar faces – even it’s not familiar names – whenever you walk in. My Shellfish is The Anchorage Tavern. It’s familiar and it’s one of the many places that make this area my home. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Other Side of Later about The Shellfish.
The Shellfish was only a five minute drive from my house. It had been a local landmark and watering hole for generations. The building was built in the mid-1800s, and as the story goes, it transitioned from a hotel to a tavern over time, survived prohibition, and kept going strong ever since. While most restaurants along the bay became inundated with tourists during the summer months, the Shellfish almost always remained a local crowd. Summer nights saw the bar packed with not only the baby-faced 21 year olds, but also the old familiar faces of the baby-boomer era. Everybody drank; everybody danced; everybody was friends. The building itself was a spectacular site. Its four story Victorian structure with a large wrap around porch overlooking the bay was unique among the smaller shops and restaurants. Inside, I would always see the same several faces seated at their designated stools at the bar. I didn’t frequent the Shellfish enough for everyone to know my name, but it was always a familiar scene.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. If you’d like to read more, please check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon.