Reviewed by Christine
TITLE: A Second Harvest
SERIES: Men of Lancaster County #1
AUTHOR: Eli Easton
NARRATOR: Will Tulin
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 7 hrs, 40 mins.
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2017
David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.
Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now 30, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to rest, recoup, and reflect.
But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches onto cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.
Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.
This is my second experience with this title. I read the ebook version when it was first released, and I was quite excited for the audio version. One thing I noticed was missing, however, was the author’s note that was included in the print edition. It originally had me in tears, and I wish it had been a part of the audio, as it was such a vital part of the theme of the book:
I love the idea it’s never too late to change your life, to take up a new degree or profession, a new love, or even a whole new family. Because the opposite is tragic, isn’t it? Being doomed to forever walk the same path can be a kind of living hell. It’s not easy to leave a well-worn road, but ultimately it is worth it. This is the story of one man’s second chance.
The message of this book grabbed me, and hard. The fact that it truly is never too late make big changes gives those of us “of a certain age” permission to make our lives what we wish it to be, regardless of how far along its path we have roamed. As I witnessed David questioning his life and how he should be living it, the story became even more personal and poignant. I think this is where Eli Easton’s talent shines brightest. She finds a touching point with her audience through her characters’ internal dialogue, angst, and revelations, and these scenes hit their mark straight and true, right into the reader’s heart. Zing!
I felt an immediate connection with both David and Christie through the vibrancy of their character introductions. These scenes couldn’t have been more polar opposite, and what a wonderful way to portray the differences between these two beautifully crafted characters, the Mennonite and the Manhattanite. Superbly detailed with well-balanced earthiness, grit, and compassion, the initial impressions of both men are solidly established and carry through even as the characters change and grow throughout the story. The slow build between them, which begins as friendship over shared meals (oh, Ms. Easton, you made me so hungry while I listened!), is gorgeous to watch. The tension and tentativeness are real and heady, and I loved how the relationship gradually morphs into something else. What I appreciated even more was the fact that these two men communicated. I cannot emphasize enough how gratifying it is to see characters speak to one another as they work out the issues between them instead of running. Bravo, Ms. Easton!
Yes, David and Christie work extremely well together, but David is truly a centerpiece here. As the story progresses, his questions about himself and his beliefs build, his perspective changes, and his desire to honor who he is and how he wants to live grabs the reader by the heartstrings and won’t let go. His pain and inner turmoil are real, the conversations he has with himself and others are authentic and well-balanced, and his revelations are gut-wrenching (the scene with a box in the barn will forever be a favorite of mine).
I want to emphasize again how lovely this book truly is. Rural Pennsylvania and its inhabitants spring to life as the author’s vivid details weave a picturesque backdrop for David and Christie’s story. The smells, flavors, and atmosphere of cultures from around the world waft from the pages when Christie and David sit down to eat together. The earthiness and intimacy of the barn as a calf is born is unmistakably sweet, tender, and symbolic.
Will Turin’s performance as narrator is fairly good. At times his delivery feels rather stilted and formal, especially during dialogue, which tends to lack emotion that helps bring characters to life. However, the narration is effective, overall.
I adored this story, plain and simple. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to the second installment in this series. Ms. Easton, thank you again for such a beautiful reading experience!