Once Upon a Second Chance was not only an amazing read, but easy to fall into. In this tale, Zee Monodee takes on an unusual topic in the western world as we know it. I got the chance to learn so much about a completely foreign culture, that of Arabic Muslims. I have friends that are Muslim, but the most I really understand can be called basic at best, such as the way women cover themselves with burkas, polygamy, and of Allah.
But in this story I was thrust into culture shock as I waded into the murky waters of a woman who was purchased for her virtue, robbed of emotional comfort, and then abruptly repudiated after being slandered as barren. And all of this occurs before marriage to another man who leaves her after the consummation of the vows. The heroine is complex, she tries her best to be a good woman and observant of her faith. The modesty part really hit me the hardest. I am a modern modest woman, but fashionable with it and even I have been known to let a bit of cleavage show when I go out on Friday nights with my girlfriends.
But our heroine is of another class. She lives in the tropics by way of England and the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and even with the humidity, still feels uncomfortable without a scarf wrapped over her hair. Her “mother-in-law” is a wonderful character that drives much of the story with an air of deus ex machina that left me laughing and shaking my head.
The hero is a complex man also, but his desires seem simple. He truly cares about the well-being of his bride and almost every action he took was to see to his new wife’s needs, though he seemed to desert her with no good reason after their wedding night. But even that desertion was with good reason. His wife doesn’t know about his nearly Machiavellian plot for revenge, nor does she know that she had her own role to play in it.
I loved this short and the author used every split second of word count well. In most cases, I find that I want more of the story, or that there was not enough description. But in this case? Ms. Monodee’s brisk phrasing and fluid use of foreign culture was plenty enough to whet my appetite for another story of hers. And all the while I am not left to desire another page or another scene to round out the one I just finished.
The happy ending was crisply poignant in a way that leaves no stone unturned and no plot threads dangling. So all in all, this was a wonderful read that will leave a smile on your lips and happiness in your heart, but complex enough that you’ll think about it later.
-Reviewed by Jennifer