The Opposite of Chance

Margaret Hermes. Delphinium, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-883285-95-1
Hermes (The Phoenix Nest) delivers a breezy travelogue of a woman’s vacation in Europe, her first trip away from home. A native of Milwaukee, Wis., middle-aged Betsy Baumgartner is recently divorced from her philandering professor of a husband and has finally finished her master’s of library science when she decides to take a solo trip to get away from what she used to be: “A comfort. A convenience. A wife.” It’s the early 1980s and her adventure begins at the airport, where she meets Kassim, a handsome Canadian Muslim man. This is the first of several interactions with travelers and locals as she makes her way to France, then Italy, and finally Ireland, where she meets a potential love interest and navigates an Irish Republican riot before returning home. After each meeting, Hermes injects a chapter from the stranger’s point of view, beginning with a story of Kassim’s past as a museum curator in Beirut before he fled from the civil war. These portrayals are meant to go deeper than Betsy’s naive perception, but their expository details don’t make the characters feel very lifelike. The account of Betsy’s eye-opening travels works much better, credibly tracking her growth. Readers who can get past the clunky bits will find some pleasant escapist fare. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/08/2021
Release date: 03/16/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-5040-6689-1
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