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on August 13, 2007
In the iconic 80s movie "The Big Chill," former college friends meet at the unexpected funeral of one of their own...and their bittersweet reunion uncovers unexpected truths and vulnerabilities.

"Second Chance" starts with the exact same premise. A group of seemingly disparate adults in their 30s gathers to mourn a dear friend, Tom, unexpectedly killed in a terrorist attack (fictional, but scary)in New York. The friends gather in Britain for Tom's "hometown" memorial and a reunion. One friend, Saffron, is a grade B Hollywood actress with two big secrets to hide. Another, Holly, is married to a high-level lawyer and absolutely miserable, despite her two beautiful children. Olivia seems happy on the outside; she's an animal rescuer, but her longtime relationship has just collapsed. Paul seems the luckiest and happiest, married to a drop-dead gorgeous Scandinavian Internet entrepeneur, Anna, but they are unable to have children despite many IV attempts. And then there is Will, younger brother of Tom, who is still the perpetual hippie.

As all these friends gather, they find they still love one another, but must accept the realities of their adult lives. It becomes clear in short order that Tom was the catalyst who, all these years, kept them together by an invisible thread; although none of them really kept in touch, Tom kept in touch with them all. And it is upon him that many of their hopes and dreams have rested, in complete fantasy.

Jane Green has come far beyond her "chick lit" stage. This is a thoughtful book, maybe a bit cliched, but still well worth reading. It's a fast and interesting read, but meaningful as well. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon August 9, 2008
This book starts out as a British version of "The Big Chill" but goes downhill pretty fast.
We are introduced to all the main characters in the opening scene. They were school friends who went their separates ways and reunited when another friend dies in a terrorist attack.
So we have Holly, trapped in an unhappy marriage to Marcus, a vain, snobbish, selfish lawyer. The author devotes many pages throughout the book to demonstrating how vain, snobbish and selfish Marcus is. Oh, did I forget to tell you? He's vain, snobbish and selfish.
Next is Saffron, a B-list Hollywood actress with alcoholic tendencies having an affairs with P -- "the sexist man in the world." Except that P can't marry Saffron because he's married to someone else and it would be bad for his career. (Didn't stop Tom Cruise).
There's Olivia who likes dogs more than people, has a one-night stand with a hunky American and gets pregnant.
Paul is a journalist married to super-Swedish businesswoman Anna who would like to have children but can't get pregnant. Oh the possibilities for plot development that little contradiction offers.
This collection of cliches (sorry, I mean characters) falls in and out of bed with each other and others, goes to weddings and funerals, gets pregnant, gets drunk, gets depressed, gets high, gets low ... gets this, that and the other ...until the book ends with everyone living happily ever after and buying lots and lots of fabulous clothes and never getting wrinkles.
I honestly don't like giving books poor reviews and I have nothing against books about unhappy marriages and adultery (Anna Karenina and Madam Bovary examined this territory rather effectively, after all). I would rather give five stars to all the books I read because I know how hard it is to write a book, how much effort and heartache and emotional investment goes into it.
But really, don't people write books with real characters and real plots any more? The writing here is so wooden and pedestrian it's hard to describe. Characters are introduced solely so that they can say things about other characters. Then they disappear and we never see them again. At the end of the book, Holly suddenly falls in love with someone else who we never meet at all. Sarah, the widow of the friend who dies, is inconsolable -- depressed, shattered, bereft. She just disappears from the book. Does she live, die, recover, marry a space alien? We're not told.
I guess writers are only as good as readers demand them to be. If this kind of stuff sells, there's no incentive for the author to do better or her editors to demand better. We, the reading public, get the books we deserve.
But surely we don't deserve this.
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on August 2, 2015
I love British/Irish chick lit of the Helen Fielding or Anna Maxted variety and if there was any way I could make my living talking about it, I would. This was an attempt to branch out and see who else is producing good work in the same vein. Green is definitely not in Fielding's or even Maxted's league. Her writing lacks alacrity and wit. The whole plot was entirely too maudlin an exercise, and her characters were much too predictable. I am interested in the romance genre because an author is expected to innovate within certain conventions and do something new within a tried-and-true framework, but there is no attempt to do so here. Green doesn't push herself either in humor or in style. It was only readable because I was on a plane and had no other choice. <i> Second Chance </i> barely held my attention.
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on November 16, 2007
Jane Green's "Second Chance" focused on the lives of a few schoolmates who were brought together when they found out that one of their friends Tom, had died in a terrorist attack. Holly is a mother of two, married to a controlling husband, Saffron, a Hollywood actress having affair with one of the hottest actors in L.A., Olivia, who recently broke up with her long-time boyfriend, and Paul, who has been trying to have a baby with his wife. These friends has never keep in touch with each other but were reunited after Tom's death. In addition, Tom's death made them reexamine the lives they have chosen as well as the decisions they made.

I have always been a fan of Jane Green but this one was not her typical work. "Second Chance" is not a very engaging read as at times, I feel that the author was bouncing from one character to the other. The writing was so-so and mostly, the storyline was just uninteresting. It was hard for me to grasp the idea of how a few people who lost touch over the years were able to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets to one another. This was a disappointing read for me.
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on October 16, 2007
I can't get past all the unbelievable errors in this book to even comment on the content. I should have given it away immediately after coming across the rookie time zone calculation error in Chapter One: The UK is five hours AHEAD of the Eastern United States, and therefore Holly could not have been writing from England in the middle of the night while Sarah was learning of the train accident that morning in New York. If it was the middle of the night in the UK, it would have been late evening in New York. Likewise, morning in New York would be early afternoon in the UK. This combined with numerous speaker errors (page 149, Holly instead of Olivia, for example) lead me to wonder if I got a preview copy instead of an edited one. Honestly, could no one afford an editor? That no one took the time to correct these glaring mistakes shows how little faith Green and her publisher must have in her readers' intelligence. I'll find someone else to read, thanks very much.
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on June 19, 2007
It is obvious that Jane Green has slowly, but steadily been getting away from her trademark chick lit novels.

Second chance is all about life - serious life and it does not work for me.

I felt so depressed after finishing this one. It felt slow and contrived to me and absolutely nobody is having a good day let alone a good life and I LONGED for another excellent book such as Bookends.

Please Jane, go back to what you write best - chick lit and leave the "serious" fiction behind.
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on July 23, 2007
This book is such a beautiful piece of work. I found the characters all very realistic with problems that I could see any of us facing in everyday life. I personally related to the character Holly. I couldn't wait to see where she'd end up at the end of the book. One thing this book makes you think about is the friendships you developed when you were younger. The shared history you have with those people in your past. Life many have taken you on a different path - but in the end those shared histories are enough to keep those friendships intact and those bonds alive forever.
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on June 20, 2007
This book was good but nothing spectacular. I really do prefer her earlier fiction. But I will always be loyal and read each of her books. I thought the plot was kinda cool...how this guy's death really does change these friends' lives. I feel it is a good plot in that it is not the repetitive chick lit that I've seen so often and am getting so sick of!! I really liked the characters as well.
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on August 10, 2008
A commuter book is my version of the "beach book." It's something for me to do on the train, but light enough to not take seriously or even pay TOO much attention to because I know I'll be distracted by train stops and other such things.

While I think Jane Green had an interesting idea, it was poorly executed with very cliche characters and immature, one--dimensional dialogue. At some points, I said to myself, "Wow, I can't believe Jane had the nerve to even write such things," in response to things that only 12-year-old high school girls would say, bt were coming out of 30-something year old's mouths.

I think this book's ultimate demise, however, is the end. There was a LOT of leading up to what decisions the main character's would make, especially Holly's. After the big climatic confrontational chapter, the next was a quick (cop-out) conclusion about how each character ended up during a "reunion" scene. Never was it explained how some of the characters made very different choices for their personalities or beliefs. Some others, however, were very predictable, which is okay for an entertaining chick lit book.

Overall, I enjoyed it, I suppose. It had it's major faults, and I don't think Jane Green is the best of chick-lit writers by any means. But it's an entertaining read if you need something to do on your 40-minute commute to work each day. The characters are at times very annoying, as far their descriptions by Ms. Green, but the stories and how everyone intertwines are, for the most part, relateable. If this book had been better written, I'd have been more happy with it.
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on July 11, 2007
This book is not the typical Jane Green book but I thought it was so touching and differnt. I love that as I get older Jane Greens books get more mature. I have seen the comments about it not being the typical Chic Lit books but I would give this one a chance. I thought it was just a good story of stregth and overcoming challenges.

I never cry when I read and this book got to my heart. I cried like a baby.
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