Land of Last Chances
Joan Cohen, author
Jeanne Bridgeton, an unmarried executive in her late forties, discovers life doesn’t begin and end on a spreadsheet when her expected menopause instead becomes an unexpected pregnancy. Though accomplished at managing risk professionally, Jeanne realizes her skills don’t extend to her personal life, where she has allowed the professional and the personal to become intertwined. She’s not even sure which of two men in her life is the father. Worse yet, a previously undisclosed family secret reveals that she may carry a rare hereditary gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s―and it’s too late to get genetic tests. This leaves Jeanne to cope with her intense fear of risk without the aid of the mountain of data she’s accustomed to relying upon. Wrestling with the question of whether her own needs, or those of her child, should prevail takes Jeanne on an intensely emotional journey―one that ultimately leads to growth and enlightenment.
Cohen’s satisfying, fast-paced debut follows a 48-year-old businesswoman who learns she’s pregnant. Throughout her life, Jeanne Bridgeton had been convinced by her recently deceased mother that a woman must prioritize a successful career above bearing children. Jeanne followed that advice, moving up the corporate ladder at a technology business called Salientific until reaching the position of marketing v-p. She thought she had already entered menopause, but then she finds out she’s pregnant, and the father is either Vince, a key investor in Salientific, or Salientific’s CEO, Jake, with whom she had a post-party one-night stand. These professional indiscretions and questions of paternity complicate matters as Jeanne moves through the opening months of her pregnancy. Further complicating things is her discovery of her mother’s keepsake box, which reveals that her father had died from early-onset Alzheimer’s. Because both Jeanne and her baby may also carry the gene, she considers abortion. Jeanne endures a number of additional ordeals, including protecting Jake, who has PTSD, against a corporate mutiny, and caring for her lovable but dying dog, Bricklin, who’s her best friend and only family. Though overwhelming with its onslaught of tribulations, the novel sustains its momentum and holds readers’ attention with capable prose and emotional depth. This is a worthwhile debut about overcoming midlife obstacles. (BookLife)