Winds Of Change – Mary Metcalfe

Winds Of Change – Mary Metcalfe
Laskin Publishing/2012
  Reviewed By Sheri de Grom

The characters in Winds of Change are confident and engaging yet vulnerable with frailties. I identified with Mary Metcalfe’s individual personalities. I wanted to protect them and let them know everything would be okay. I was sure of it.

The novel opens as Jennifer Barret rushes to her father’s room at Brentwood Manor. She hadn’t wanted to place him at the manor but she could no longer keep him safe at home. Her father Art Severn—once a gentle bear of a man—now has Alzheimer’s and gets frustrated easily.

On this particular day, Jennifer has been called as her father refused to use his walker. As a result, he tripped and sprained his wrist trying to break his fall. The doctor at the manor restricts Art to a wheelchair and Jennifer longs for the father she used to have. Her healthy father who: gardened with gusto, participated in regular golf games, and was ready for a new adventure at a moments notice. Now, her father rarely knows who she is.

Jennifer is a case worker who lives in the home where she grew up. Her husband and daughter were killed in a plane crash while they were visiting potential colleges for their daughter. After the deaths, Jennifer couldn’t stand to live where ever space reminded her of the happy life she’d once shared with her husband and child. Her parents had taken her into their home and kept her safe until she felt ready to enter the world again.

In the meantime, her mother passed away and she stayed on to keep her father company. She sold her own home and found solace in her father’s company. But it’s clear now that her father is gone mentally and indications are that the Alzheimer’s is making physical demands on his body as well.

Enter Mark Powell, Jennifer’s new client. Mark’s mental health doctor believes he’s ready to return to work after a bout of serious depression and his battle with anxiety. He’d been his mother’s primary caregiver as she’d battled cancer and lost. Mark was devastated.

Mark tells Jennifer, . . . [My main priority right now is to find a real job, which is not easy when you have a major gap on your resume and have worked only part-time and short-term jobs. Mostly, I don’t even get an interview.] . . .

Mark’s mother was a famous concert pianist and teacher. His father had been primarily absent in his life and is the famous national news reporter, Ben Powell. Ben is on a return trip from Afghanistan.

Jennifer calls a friend who’s the executive director at Brentwood Manor where her father is a patient. She remembers hearing the manor’s head gardener for the ten-acre estate had to retire and they hadn’t found a replacement. Brentwood can’t afford a professional landscaper.

Mark gets the job later that day. He loves the outdoors and has had some landscape experience.

We meet Ben Powell as he arrives in Boston. He’s concerned it’s been four years since he’s seen Mark, his only child.

Ben’s tired. He shoves a weary hand through his shock of silver hair . . . [At least people are leaving me alone today, he thought as yet another passenger did a double take when she recognized the tall, lanky journalist. With his face almost a nightly fixture in millions of homes, bars and airport waiting areas, Ben was at the top of his game. His news feeds and investigative reports on war and conflict were picked up by networks around the world.] . . .

Ben knows it’s time for him to hang up his cameras. He’s facing PTSD. He’s out of sorts from jet lag but he hasn’t seen his son since his ex-wife’s memorial four years earlier. He has to admit, he hasn’t been much of a father. It was easier to chase the latest hot story than to bond with a son who needed him more than ever. Is it now going to be too late?

. . . [Coming off the elevator he immediately spotted a younger version of himself coming through the doors. Whether it was fatigue or the lengthy separation or just his aging self, he suddenly choked up at the sight of his son—his own flesh and blood—walking towards him looking happy yet apprehensive. He hadn’t known what to expect after all this time and was gratified by what he saw.] . . .

Lana, a young single mother with a four-year-old son, also works at Brentwood Manor. She and Mark hit it off immediately. As Lana and Mark become friends, Danny—Lana’s four-year-old—provides another reason for Mark to spend time at their home. It seems a perfect instant family. Lana is also a widow. Lana and Mark have feelings for each other but are afraid to say the words.

Mark’s depression and anxiety lift as he renews his passion of working in the soil, communicating on a regular basis with management and vendors, executing successful plans, reuniting with his family, and getting to know Lana and her son. His days fall into a routine and that’s a welcome relief to his previous mental health issues.

Meanwhile, his father—the world-renowned news caster—is having his own problems. Ben hasn’t signed a new contract with the news agency he’s been with for thirty years. He can’t bring himself to recommit. He doesn’t want to return to the war zone. He wants to reconnect with his son.

. . . [As Ben put the phone down, he realized he was drenched in sweat. His hands are shaking uncontrollably. Despite the warmth of the room he was shivering. Take slow deep breaths. Focus on where you are right now. You are in a safe place now. He looked around the room in somewhat of a daze.

He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and took in deep calming breaths through his nose. Whoa. Hyperventilating or what. Haven’t had anxiety attacks like that in over a month, he realized. He shook his head. Guess my war isn’t over yet.] . . .

The day arrives when Lana, Jennifer, Danny, Mark, and Ben all meet. It’s a casual walk in the park and not a set-up as we often find in novels. But, this is the jumping off point where we have our core cast of characters for the remainder of the novel.

Mary Metcalfe moves her cast of characters through real life ups and downs. We all know the anguish of trying to decide if we should stay at the bedside of someone we love or can we afford to be gone for a few days. If that person slips away, will we be able to forgive ourselves?

The heartache of knowing that maybe we could have done more to help someone plays out in Ben and Mark’s relationship. Yet, like Ben, we have so many of our own issues we couldn’t help anyone else, not when we couldn’t help ourselves.

Is Lana overly protective of Danny, a child who has lost his father at such a young age? Can a ten-minute not-quite-relaxing bath really hold Lana together so the rest of her day can be devoted to young Danny and earning a living?

Jennifer becomes caught up in thinking her parents’ home and yard is just too much for one person to handle. Why hang on to all the space? Perhaps she should give it up and move into a chrome and steel high-rise condo overlooking Boston Harbor. But is she ready for this transition?

Winds of Change is set in Boston and Mary Metcalfe makes use of the beautiful sights and sounds plus many of the yummy tastes of the area. I feel the salt water, sun, and breezes as the characters spend a long weekend sailing. The lap of the water that soothes them to sleep on their sailing vessel and being in close quarters is the ultimate reality for possible intimacy.

I’ve watched as more and more agents are looking for manuscripts set in small towns. Boston isn’t a small town by any stretch of the imagination. However, the environment and relationships Mary Metcalfe builds in Winds Of Change would fit perfectly in that setting. Not only is Winds of Change an excellent read, but it’s also an excellent resource to study if you’re in the market to write series small town community women’s fiction books.

I recommend Winds of Change without reservation and look forward to its anticipated sequel, New Beginnings.

The video trailer for Winds of Change is http://bit.ly/QC3LYw.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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29 Responses to Winds Of Change – Mary Metcalfe

  1. Mary – I started to put in a clip and work in the 100th birthday party with Sinatra songs but didn’t want it to take away from the marvelous story your readers are going to discover. The development of Mark’s character and his being able to get off of his anxiety medication, I believe, was due in large part to his being able to play the piano again and the appreciation of his lovely voice. Again–your marvelous way in character development. I’m not going to give away all your character secrets. It wouldn’t be possible here. That’s what I mean when I talked about how each character is developed so fully with their own trials and vulnerable frailties yet they are so engaging and confident at the same time.

  2. Sometimes I will put some soft music on in the background while I read, but more often than not, if I’m reading a book I prefer silence. Books and music are my two biggest passions, so doing both can split my attention. Too easy for me to get sidetracked into singing along, then being forced to re-read paragraphs. I will have to check out Danny Wright. I really do enjoy good piano music (Jim Brickman, John Tesh, George Winston).

    By the way, I’m glad you’ve found new artists through my blog. Because music has been such a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, It bleeds into every aspect of my life, including my writing. (BTW, my entire family sings)

  3. By now, Sheri, I’m sure you’ve figured out I’m an escapist reader. However, this one sounds just like the kind of book I would enjoy sinking my teeth into. It sounds like beautiful pieces of humanity and weakness that use love and forgiveness as the bond that creates an amazing collage of people’s power to move forward through life. I think I’m going to need to pick this one up!

    • Kitt – Do you listen to music when you are reading? I ask due to the many music references you use (and yes you’ve introduced me to some artist I wasn’t aware of and I now have them on some of my playlists). Anyway – if you like piano music – Danny Wright has a new CD out and I listened to it while I was working on this particular review. I really like Danny Wright’s piano and he mixes just the right amount of soul digging and love igniting to be a great companion for this read. Remember, Winds Of Change has a sequel also.

  4. A beautiful review as always , Sheri. Your light and loving touch is a welcomed break in my day. About Boston … it might be considered a “major” city, or even a major college town … but it has the feel of a small town … it’s neighborhoods and enclaves so special and separate that one can think of it as quaint more than other cities. Thanks for another great selection 🙂

    • I have to break cover here. I haven’t actually been to Boston. But, I did hours of research and imagined being in each location I describe. Now, I want to visit more than ever! I was interviewed last Saturday by Starla Faye of TwoTalkBooks.com… she was floored. She’s been a number of times. 🙂 But, people who write science fiction and fantasy haven’t “been there.” So, I figured I could do the same with a real world location.

      • Yes, Mary. Boston is a must. It’s a wonderful city and give yourself lots of time for all the sites and time to enjoy the city experience and surrounding area. If at all possible, take in the Pops while you are there — one of the finest anywhere. I’ve also been there several times and your descriptions worked so your research definitely paid off.

        • I have been a fan of the Boston Pops forever. For years when we lived in the city, we had a subscription to PBS. That particular PBS station (Watertown) isn’t offered in our satellite package. It’s one of the few things I miss! We almost made it to Boston a few years ago. But, we got so thoroughly lost in Rhode Island we didn’t have time to detour on our way back home! Just today though, I told my husband we are renewing our passports because we MUST go to Boston. It is on my bucket list. Now that I’m full-time self-employed I can decide on our vacations and their timing! How great is that?

    • You’re absolutely right Florence. One of the things I love about Boston is being able to wander around and see something new even if I’ve been over the same path many times before. Additionally, I’ve always felt welcome there. Thankfully it’s a city where a lot of government work is available thus a great business expense getting to and fro. If I time everything just right, I do my best to get tickets for the Boston Pops.

  5. Oh, boy, another winner! I’m thinking one week a month should be “Sheri’s Books” week — Monday & Tuesday nights I read The Buddha In The Attic, and last night I started One Good Dog.

    It’s a treat knowing that my bedside table contains one of your picks, and by now there are enough that I literally can take a whole week to enjoy them. So this one’s going on the list, for sure.

  6. I LOVE small town community women’s fiction novels and your review, Sheri, gave me the feeling that’s exactly what I’d get with Mary’s book.
    Thank you.
    Patti

    • Hi, Patti – Mary’s book is set in Boston but all the time I was reading, I kept thinking, this is such a cozy story–it’s perfect for a small town setting. Mary takes every advantage to use the sights, sounds, smells and taste of the Boston area–and they are wonderful. I love visiting that area so rich in history. But, when I was writing the review, I realized one of the elements I particularly liked about the story was that it would be equally keen if it were lifted out of Boston and placed in a small town. It’s the sign of a terrific book when I can see the characters outside of the setting the author has placed them in–after I’ve finished the read and happen to be thinking about those very characters days later. For me, that’s the sign of a good read and great character development.

      • I am not too old to blush, Sheri! So glad you identified that closely with the characters. I realized months after I completed the manuscript that Ben closely resembles my brother-in-law! When I told him, he blushed! 🙂

  7. I’m hooked. Thanks for your insightful review.

  8. Pingback: Winds Of Change – Mary Metcalfe « lakefrontmuse

  9. Sheri – Thank you so much for your very thoughtful review. I always enjoy the depth of your reviews and am humbled by your insights. As you know, I’m a small town girl at heart and that is exactly the kind of books I am writing. New Beginnings is now out. I hope your readers will enjoy the adventures that lead to Laskin, Massachusetts. I will be out of town today without internet access but will look forward to responding to comments when I get back. Thanks again.

    • Mary – It was my pleasure to review Winds of Change. Your characters reeled me in one by one. They are each easy to identify with. From Jennifer having to put her father in a home because she can no longer keep him safe in his own environment to Ben needing/wanting to come in from the war zone to take care of his own needs and to reconnect with his son. Young Danny lost his father far too soon and it’s hard to tell if you protect a child too much or not enough. You’ve told a great story. I didn’t talk about Jennifer’s friend in the review — but what a terrific story of her own she has to relay to the reader and single women everywhere.

  10. Edith says:

    Thanks a million for this review. It’s exactly the sort of review a writer wants to read, especially a newbie like me. Not sure if I’ll be able to get a copy this side of the Atlantic but it certainly sounds as if it is worth a try! x

    • Hi Edith! Winds of Change is available through Amazon.uk… if that helps… and France, Germany and Italy as well, I believe. It’s being distributed through Ingram… largest book distributor in the world for print. And, it’s on the Amazon Kindle Direct Program until end December worldwide. Does that help?

    • Edith – Mary’s book, Winds Of Change, is available via Barnes and Noble and I would guess Amazon. If you have an e-reader, it’s also available in e-book format. I’ll ask Mary to contact you with the various venues her novel is available from. I’m delighted you liked the review. I hope you’ll join us each Thu for review Thu. Thank you for joining us today.

      • Hi Edith! Winds of Change is on the KDP Select program for Kindle. It is available in paper back on Amazon. B&N seems to be taking some time but it is scheduled to be available in paper back there. For Amazon paper back, it is available in all their channels – UK, France, Germany, Italy and India. Let me know if you have any problem and I will work on it with the distributors.

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