An Accidental Woman
by Barbara Delinsky
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Unwelcome guests interrupt a peaceful dawn in Lake Henry, New Hampshire. Micah hears a car door shut and a knock at his door. In a flash, FBI agents are arresting his wife, Heather. They claim she's really Lisa Malone who fled a murder charge in California fifteen years ago.

Word travels fast as the sun rises in this small town. Micah didn't know his wife before she appeared in Lake Henry fourteen years ago, but he can't believe she's capable of the charges against her. With children to care for and sugaring season ahead, he moves through his days in a fog.

Heather's friends rally in her defense. Cassie becomes her lawyer and Poppy takes care of the girls. The townsfolk gossip and wonder if the Heather they know could possibly be the Lisa of the past.

An Accidental Woman spans a single sugaring season within the lives of a handful of Lake Henry's residents. The town was also the setting for Delinsky's Lake News. Some of the characters are present in both novels.

Though the story begins with Heather's arrest, it moves forward through Poppy's life. She's the spunky paraplegic who runs the town's telephone answering service. A wealthy writer named Griffin is smitten with Poppy, though she uses her disability to keep him at arms length. Delinsky also lets readers explore Griffin's troubled past as he searches for his runaway sister.

It first appears that the Accidental Woman in question is Heather. In reality, most of the story is about Poppy learning to open up and let someone love her. What is billed as intriguing fiction is more like a sentimental romance.

There are little individual stories within this novel that give readers a glimpse at life in and around Lake Henry. Delinsky combines them nicely and their conclusions are sweet without being sappy.

It would have been interesting to explore this story from Heather's viewpoint. Instead, Delinksy opts to play it safe and stick with the fairy-tale formula. The dramatic beginning doesn't get the attention it deserves up to and within the novel's conclusion.

The small-town values of loyalty, honesty and friendship are the best qualities in An Accidental Woman. The characters work well together within the picturesque setting. This is a pleasant New England tale that will leave a smile on your face. Isn't that the joy of reading?
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