Book Review: Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons

From Publishers Weekly
No one does coastal melodrama like veteran Siddons (Homeplace). Lilly Constable McCall, 53, has led an enviable life—marriage and children with a successful architect, her own success as a sculptor—but husband Cam's death sends her spiraling. She returns to the coastal family cottage in Edgewater, Maine, where she spent her childhood, and where Cam died. There, she recalls the summer of 1962, and the arrival in town of new girl Peaches Davenport, who envies all Lilly has. That includes the attentions of attractive older boy Jon Lowell, who awakens grown-up feelings in Lilly's 11-year-old heart. But it's Lilly's place as the daughter of a Washington, D.C., professor and the sporadically successful painter and activist Elizabeth Constable—that makes Lilly's childhood most attractive to Peaches, and to readers.  Jon may have shared her first kiss, and Cam her home and children, but it's the changing relationship between Lilly and the elusive, enigmatic Elizabeth that makes this story fresh. (Aug.)
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I love Anne Rivers Siddons’ books;   I have read all of them.
I really liked this book, Off Season,  but I did not love it.   I loved the way she developed the characters and the descriptions, as one reviewer said the location was as much a character in the book as the people.   Her descriptions of the ocean, the wild life were wonderful.   I loved the first part (actually all but the last 2 or 3 pages).      

I hated the end, I wasn’t sure what happened, it was very confusing.  There were several loose ends, and as one review said it ended “abruptly and left the reader slightly out of kilter”    The end alone is enough for a book discussion group.  Then again as much as I disliked the end, I am still trying to figure it out 3 days later.   If you like, southern authors, chick lit, and a good light summer read, try this book then let me know what you think.


Off Season

I agree completely.  I just finished it and had to go back and reread the last 25 or so pages to see if I had missed something that would have explained the ending.  I'm assuming that David was Cam and Peaches's child?  Am I confused or did I really understand it??  These letters must have been from David?  The timing between Cam meeting Peaches and having dinner with her and his dying wasn't clear...  And I guess that Lilly must have known at the end what had happened.  I'm trying to decide if I liked the book or not- the descriptive scenes and character development were very good.  Seems that Anne Rivers Siddons throws little tidbits of information in and expects us to understand when and why.  Wow- I'm going to really have to think about this one.Undecided
JoyceBetz's picture

Off Season comments

Check, several different people reviewed it and they all were confused too.  That made me feel better, because I thought I had really missed something.

If you have not read other Siddon's books I recommend them.  Many of them have suprise endings, but they made sense. Thanks for your thoughts and comments.  Joyce 

Off Season

I just completed Off Season and what I think occured in the end is seeing David shocked her completely into reality that her beloved place and her memories of Cam there could no longer be something to cherish and it crushed her so immediately that she died and in dying she reunited with her most innocent love , Jon.

Off Season

WOW!!!! After reading the 4 previous reviews I realize just how confusing that ending really was! I, too, finished the book and had to go back and re-read the last 4-5 pages. The bulk of the book was so beautifully written yet had powerful plot twists that kept me really engaged but the author totally lost me with that ending. I think that David might very well have been Cam and Peaches son (now that it was pointed out to me!) Didn't her friend, Kitty, keep hinting that maybe Cam wasn't as trustworthy as Lilly thought? I'm still unsure how she died, though. Maybe we should contact ARS herself and ask her what happened??

Off Season

I am so glad I read all of your comments.  I just got done with the book and loved it.  Couldn't put it down!  But the ending had me so confused I literally kept waking up in the middle of the night trying to figure it out.  After reading the other comments I feel better about being so confused.  If indeed, David is the son of Cam and Peaches, then it all makes much more sense.  However, the whole dying thing had me reeling as well.

Definately good book club discussion material.  I love this author.

Off Season

Just completed this book last evening and was truly disappointed with the ending.  Several discrepancies come to mind.  The author would have us believe that a woman of 60 would fit into clothes that she wore when she was 11???  We are also to believe that this 60 year old woman ends up with her first love who was 12 when he died??????  In regards to her husband who has recently died we discover on the final two pages that he presumably had an affair some 20 years ago which is totally out of character for him as we were told throughout the book that once he was with someone he never let them out of his sight (due to his sister's death when he was 8 years old).  So how could he possibly have had a one night stand resulting in a son?

This was one of those books that you invest hours in only to wish you hadn't read it at all!

Off Season

I did not think it was out of character for Cam to have an affair with Peaches since he was such a ladies man before he married Lilly. I am sure Peaches seduced him as he was so vulnerable at the time. Think of their intimate conversation. He and Kitty were so close that I think he had confided in her about his son. Kitty told Lily that he was not a saint and she needed to talk to her. They mentioned Cam's will once in the book, and I think David was probably included in that. I feel she would have found out eventually.

My question is, "Did David realize he was Cam's son?" I think Peaches knew what she was doing as she sent her son over to Lilly's home twice. She knew how much he looked like Cam.

I do not think Lilly died in the end, but had a mental breakdown when she realized Cam had been unfaithful. Then she clung to her safety net (as she had always done as a child), which was her imagination. She knew Jon had loved her and she was safe in that love. He could never hurt her.

I guess she could have died of a broken heart?


So glad to read others reactions

Loved Off Season until the last page------and continue to invent a better

"ending"----came to love Lilly and think less dramatic and more mature ending

would have made more sense.  I see her returning home, facing her children, and

accepting the dramatic reality that she had not imagined.  She had navigated so much

and grown,  a more affirmative realistic ending would have beena  better fit. 

Off Season

I totally agree that this book leaves one 'up in the air'.  It's 12:45 am and I can't get to sleep after finishing this book and wondering why it had no understandable ending.   I don't mind sad endings, but endings that are impossible to comprehend, and I re-read the last 5 pages three times, do not endear me to a book.  My insomnia will not allow me to read anymore of Siddons books.   

Off Season

I was also very confused by the ending. I do believe that Lily died (froze to death), because David said that there was death in the house. When Silas nuzzled David's neck and said that he knew what home smellled like - that's what he used to do to Cam. So I guess David was Cam's son. I was especially confused about Lily's dream about Peaches at the carnival - that was way over my head. Oh well, at least I'm not alone in my confusion!

Anne Rivers Siddons Off season

I usually enjoy reading Siddons' books and did enjoy this book very much up until the ending of the book.  There was little or no explanation as to the mysteries surrounding Cam's visits to Edgewater that Lily knew nothing about.  I love a good mystery, but the ending of this book is completely unsatisfying.  If Lily died from the shock of seeing Cam's son then why was her body not found?  It was referenced in the book that the people who looked after her house would be by soon, but the book says that David did not find Lily's body until the second time he came to the house.  I do not believe I will ever read a Siddons book again.  It is very confusing to read a book with no clear ending.

Off Season

I have read and loved Anne Rivers Siddoons' books, a actually just read Colony for a second time.  After that, I wanted to read Off Season, but I was very confused about the ending of Off Season.  I couldn't decide what really happened to Lilly in the end.  There were too many lose ends hanging.  I'm wondering if there is going to be another book?