With Off Season, Anne Rivers Siddons demonstrates again why she is lauded as one of America’s most popular and respected literary writers. Each page sings with style, emotion, and grace. Set in the summer of 1963 and the present day and told in retrospect, the story follows eleven-year old Lilly during the last season her family spends at their vacation home in Maine. There Lilly experiences first love with a golden boy that inevitably ends in tragedy. Moving seamlessly forward, we are with Lilly as an adult, a recent widow, who, caught up in her memories, returns to her homeplace with her husband’s ashes in her pocket and her only company her beloved cat, Silas, with whom she communicates her deepest thoughts and feelings. Along the way, Lilly discovers that her late beloved husband, Cam, was not the person she thought him to be. As Siddons says so eloquently, “Almost all couples… have one or two secrets they keep from each other. But not the ones that defined life, skewed souls. Cam’s secret was almost who he was. I thought there must be something in me that kept him from trusting me with that pain.”
Lilly’s story reminds us how profoundly John Kennedy’s assassination affected America, how our relationships with our parents shape our lives, how people react to the deaths of those they love, how they survive, and, in the end, how we all have secret places in our hearts. In the end, Off Season leaves the reader with many unanswered questions, just as in real life.