A gentle tale of loss and second chances, Amanda by LC Moore opens with the titular heroine settling into a charmed middle age.
She shares her elegant home with an attentive, handsome unnamed husband and a much-loved college athlete daughter.
Of course, it wasn’t always thus. The novel rewinds to the early 70s and to an Amanda alone and grieving. She flees her gilded Manhattanite milieu and a broken marriage for the small town of Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina.
Troubled but healing, Amanda scrapes together the start of a new life, including a job at a local school, befriending Emma, a delightful little girl and her equally delightful single father, Paul.
Moore swerves from the expected here by flashing back and depicting Amanda’s marriage with empathy, not only for Amanda but for her ex, John. He emerges as a man well-intentioned and determined to course correct after allowing his pain and Amanda’s to part them.
This introduces the novel’s central tension: both men offer Amanda a credible chance at lasting happiness. Which will she choose? Might she return to the safety and ease of her old life, or begin again with Paul, free of the burden of guilt. Might she choose neither, striking out alone?
Paul, despite his seemingly carefree life, carries his own burdens, which threaten the fledgling romance.
No prizes for guessing which road Amanda chooses, but the getting there’s tender and satisfying. The plot tugs at the heart without guile, grown from a simple, touching seed: the author’s stumbling on a memorial plaque to a lost child. Moore’s prose, as direct and open-hearted, engages and drives a classic story.