Caroline Hammond seemed to have it all, even to herself. She married her high school sweetheart, her first love, after college. They moved into her dream house after she found her perfect job as a museum curator at a first class art museum in Williamstown (in the heart of the Massachusetts Berkshires). Her BFF is not only a world-class chef but also a very nice looking, funny man. She’s pretty sure her life is perfect.
And then, by chance, she finds out her husband is having an affair. With a man.
Suddenly everything she knew about her life is turned upside down.
It’s not the cheating, and it’s not that it’s a man. It’s everything. As she starts to come to terms with it all, Caroline starts to realize that her marriage, and a lot of who she thought she was, has been based on untruths.
As Caroline starts on the path of adulthood on her own, she starts to lean on those around her. Her sister Ruby. Her bestfriend Patrick. Friends from the museum. As her husband’s other secrets and lies come to light (even to himself), she must decide if she can forgive and let him back in, or if she’s better off on her own.
Results May Vary is a new favorite. Very readable with a twist to make it very interesting.
Chase’s characters are interesting and very likable. Caroline is smart, funny, and real. Created with real depth, she’s a woman I think we can all understand. Conflicted, confused, and just lovely. There were times I wondered where her ANGER was (she had to be really angry). She needed a good screaming session. She does get angry, but I would be smashing his wine and throwing out his journals. Or maybe I wouldn’t. I would probably drink his wine, and journals are kind of precious . . . but I would get really angry.
Her supporting characters are pretty good. I would say Adam (Caroline’s husband) is one-dimensional, but I think he’s supposed to be this way. There are so many secrets he’s hiding, I think he’s built a wall and only shows one-dimension to the world, hiding his other selves behind the wall. It has to be EXHAUSTING.
I loved that Chase made the affair different, but it didn’t end up being just that he had an affair with a man. There are so many more secrets to Adam than just the affair and the fact that he was attracted to a man enough to sleep with him. In the end, it’s the fact that he’s kept so many truths from Caroline that kills their marriage.
I LOVED her sister, Ruby, and wish I had someone in my life like that. There are times everyone needs someone to pull them out of their funk. Having a sister seems much more necessary in tough times, thanks to Ruby. Unfortunately, I don’t have a sister. I know, poor me.
And there are the sexy men. Patrick, the best friend — sexy with a conscience! And Neil, her rebound. The conflict with his feeling for his dead wife and his live children is realistic and understandable. And they have some FUN!!!!
The whole story is about Caroline really learning who she is on her own. She married the man she fell in love with in high school! As the book progresses, it becomes evident that Caroline pretty much gave in to Adam most of the time, because it was easier. So, throughout Results May Vary, she’s learning who she is and what she wants. It’s really a lovely transformation.
Other than the fact that I think Caroline should have gotten really angry, the story progressed perfectly. I wasn’t ready for it to end!!!
I give Results May Vary 4.5 stars. Good job!!!
And Now, A Little Something From the Author, Bethany Chase
The Setting: Why Bethany chose the Berkshires for Results May Vary
I set Results May Vary in the Berkshires because, like Caroline, I went to college at Williams and fell in love with the region. It reminds me a little bit of the Virginia Blue Ridge where I grew up—I am a mountain girl, through and through—but it has its own flavor, which is very much a New England one. It has beautiful old 18th-century houses, and a winding river or two, and maple trees everywhere that really do turn just the most outrageous colors of coral and red and gold in October.
The area is an interesting cultural hotspot—in Williamstown itself you have not just the college but also the world-class Clark Art Institute (I debated long and hard between having Caroline be a curator at the Clark vs MASS MoCA, but went with the latter in the end because it suited the plot better), and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Nearby you have the Tanglewood concert series, the beautiful Hancock Shaker Village, and then of course MASS MoCA, which is not just one of the largest contemporary art museums in the country but also a multi-disciplinary facility that hosts music, dance and theater as well as visual art. North Adams is interesting because it is a former industrial town that has been in a resurgence for the last 15 years or so, which is very intentionally led by the museum. One of the reasons I think the region is so great is that it has the beauty and charm of a small town, rural environment, yet packs this amazing cultural punch that far exceeds what you might expect from its population.
And, of course, it is beautiful. Those leaves! Those mountains! Those velvety white snowstorms, and the way they make you hunker down inside in front of a roaring fire. And then the spring that slinks slowly over the landscape, apologizing for the months that preceded it, until it bursts into the full green roar of May. I hope everyone gets to experience the Berkshires in their lives, not just in one season but in all of them.