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In the Land of Second Chances
Cover of In the Land of Second Chances
In the Land of Second Chances
A Novel
Borrow Borrow

A mysterious visitor changes the fortunes of a struggling Nebraska town in this "novel full of hope, humor and singular characters" (Parade).

Wilma Porter runs the only bed and breakfast in Ebb, Nebraska, and knows everyone in the small town. She also knows their troubles. Calvin Millet, for example, has an ailing daughter at home and a wife who just up and left him—and on top of that, his department store is close to bankruptcy as a new Wal-Mart looms, and his house has been destroyed by a tornado.

When a handsome stranger named Vernon L. Moore comes to town selling games of chance, more than a few eyebrows are raised. A consummate salesman, he befriends the troubled townspeople one by one. He listens to their stories and asks them intriguing questions that make them see their situations differently. The father of a dying child; the reclusive widow who's taken permanent board at the B&B; the banker with ulterior motives; and the outspoken Wilma herself are all changed by their encounters with this mysterious man who seems not of this world. After all, no one has seen a traveling salesman in Ebb for more than thirty years. But wherever he's from and whoever he is, he leaves behind a town where second chances are not only possible, they can—and do—happen.

"If you've been charmed by Jimmy Stewart and the small-town miracles of It's a Wonderful Life, treat yourself to this unusual little novel." —Parade

"A folksy, wise and gently amusing look at the importance of living life to the fullest and not only trusting in chance, but embracing uncertainty as the spice of life." —Rocky Mountain News

"Just what the doctor ordered." —Detroit Free Press

A mysterious visitor changes the fortunes of a struggling Nebraska town in this "novel full of hope, humor and singular characters" (Parade).

Wilma Porter runs the only bed and breakfast in Ebb, Nebraska, and knows everyone in the small town. She also knows their troubles. Calvin Millet, for example, has an ailing daughter at home and a wife who just up and left him—and on top of that, his department store is close to bankruptcy as a new Wal-Mart looms, and his house has been destroyed by a tornado.

When a handsome stranger named Vernon L. Moore comes to town selling games of chance, more than a few eyebrows are raised. A consummate salesman, he befriends the troubled townspeople one by one. He listens to their stories and asks them intriguing questions that make them see their situations differently. The father of a dying child; the reclusive widow who's taken permanent board at the B&B; the banker with ulterior motives; and the outspoken Wilma herself are all changed by their encounters with this mysterious man who seems not of this world. After all, no one has seen a traveling salesman in Ebb for more than thirty years. But wherever he's from and whoever he is, he leaves behind a town where second chances are not only possible, they can—and do—happen.

"If you've been charmed by Jimmy Stewart and the small-town miracles of It's a Wonderful Life, treat yourself to this unusual little novel." —Parade

"A folksy, wise and gently amusing look at the importance of living life to the fullest and not only trusting in chance, but embracing uncertainty as the spice of life." —Rocky Mountain News

"Just what the doctor ordered." —Detroit Free Press

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About the Author-
  • GEORGE SHAFFNER is the author of In the Land of Second Chances and One Part Angel. He lives in Sammamish, Washington.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 13, 2004
    When a traveling salesman mysteriously appears in smalltown Ebb, Nebr., he quickly settles in at Wilma Porter's Come Again B&B and sets about solving all the problems plaguing Ebb's small social circle in this chatty, earnest novel. While no one fully believes that the impeccably dressed Vernon Moore has truly come to sell games of chance (there are no prospective buyers, for one thing), they are eager to keep him around for excitement and advice. Through a series of conversations over Wilma's down-home cooking, and at Calvin Millet's Department Store—a family establishment fast falling prey to bankruptcy and Wal-Mart takeover—Mr. Moore pitches philosophy and faith to Ebb's residents. During Mr. Moore's six-day stay, Millet develops plans to save his store and gains courage to discuss death with his terminally ill daughter; a rich investor chooses his community over himself; and a lonely divorcée finds romance. Busybody Wilma makes for a spunky narrator, but in this story of odds and uncertainty the stakes fall short. The conceit—hotshot stranger comes to town to talk sense to backward rural folk—is hoary and diminishes the otherwise colorful characters, especially when Mr. Moore's shaky logic and platitudinous pontificating go unchallenged. Agent, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2004
    The Come Again Bed and Breakfast, run by spunky narrator Wilma Porter, provides the setting for this unusual and affectionate first novel. Wilma describes the economically depressed town of Ebb, Nebraska, whose small-business owners depend on Calvin Millet's failing department store to protect them from hostile takeover by Wal-Mart and other monster franchises. Financial vultures circle as Calvin's emotional and monetary resources are tapped by the crises surrounding his daughter's life-threatening illness. Enter self-proclaimed traveling salesman Mr. Vernon Moore, who checks into the B&B and proceeds to charm people with his good looks, probing questions, and straightforward philosophy of "Reasoned Faith." As the townfolk observe Mr. Moore gently probing their pain and helping them sort through what he calls the "Paradox of the Benevolent God," everyone agrees that he must be selling more than he claims. This cross between " Touched by an Angel " and " The Five People You Meet in Heaven" is a self-help novel that inspires hope by depicting likable down-home folks who overcome adversity with faith. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2004, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    A "winsome fable. . . . Its quirky charm and feminist slant could make it a surprise bestseller."

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A Novel
George Shaffner
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