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Friday, Dec 14, 2018
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Any Minute Things Happen To Change Lives

"Anybody Any Minute," by Julie Mars (St. Martin's Press, $25) Ellen Kenny has just gotten fired ... again. Taking advantage of her sudden unemployment, the 46-year-old drives from Manhattan to visit her sister in Montreal. Along the way, she takes a detour and a pit stop. The next thing she knows, she has purchased a small, run-down farm on a credit card cash advance. Ellen is at a crossroads. She suspects her 17-year marriage is on the skids. She wants to grow vegetables and live in an old house with character, and her husband does not. "Was it even remotely possible for her to find serenity in a broken-down farmhouse, a shack really, that sat on the steep slopes of a mountain town famous all over the North Country for its arctic winter temperatures and its overpopulation of black flies?" the author writes.
Still, Ellen is determined to spend the summer "being herself," which includes an immediate engagement with North Country society. There's the neighbor trying to sell size 46 motorcycle leathers and a beer can collection as part of his divorce from a woman he fondly calls "Wide Load." There's the son of the farm's former owner, a strangely sensitive chain-saw sculptor. Between madcap adventures and gardening, Ellen barely considers her former life. Hilarious and touching, this novel offers a heartening version of the road ahead, as former hippie-chick Ellen finds a measure of peace and spiritual awakening on the way to middle age.

Amy Smith Linton of Tampa is a freelance writer

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