In the Land of Second Chances

by George Shaffner

Hardcover, 2004

Call number





Algonquin Books (2004), Edition: English Language, 304 pages


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member verbafacio
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. It is definitely optimistic, sometimes didactic, and more than a little treacly, but all of that is balanced by the slightly cynical, worldly asides from main characters Wilma and Loretta. Vernon Moore arrives in Ebb as a traveling salesman, selling games of chance and, ultimately, hope, to the residents. This is certainly a paradigm-shifting book, though it is a little too pat to really have a strong impact.… (more)
LibraryThing member mzonderm
I just did not know what to make of this book. The voices of the characters are very well-written, I could hear the Midwestern small-town twang in so much of the dialogue and narration. And if the book had been a story of small-town life, I probably would have loved it. But this is the story of how Vernon Moore comes to this small town and allegedly changes the lives of so many of its residents. Moore's origins are a mystery, as is what he's actually doing in the town. But while he's there, he manages to convince several residents to have hope in the existence of God and an afterlife, all through using rational thought and mathematical probability. Knowing that Shaffner has also written a non-fiction book on the same subject made me feel as though I'd been tricked into reading a lecture. Nonetheless, the book is well-written and, for the most part, a pleasant way to read about the author's philosophical ideas. Still, I would have liked to see more about the characters, not to say some character development that could be explained by something in addition to the revelations from the entire town's new best friend, Vernon Moore.… (more)
LibraryThing member readingrebecca
I just finished this book tonight and like another reviewer, I'm not sure what I think about the book. I enjoyed, there were parts where I was amused and I found it easy to read. Vernon Moore is a traveling salesman who comes to Ebb, Nebraska, a town of 2,000, ostensibly selling games of chance, but really is selling hope. I fully intend to read the rest of the trilogy--maybe then I'll be able to figure out how I feel about the story. :)… (more)
LibraryThing member KathyWoodall
Welcome to Ebb Nebraska. Population of almost 2,000.

Wilma Porter owns the local bed and breakfast called Come-Again. She has been praying for a miracle for one of the youngest residents of town who is very sick with an unknown disease. Her daughter Mona's marriage is falling apart. She gets help in the strangest way. Vernon Moore, a traveling salesman, who comes to town selling games of chance. Although its been 30 years since anyone has even seen a traveling salesman and he sure doesn't dress like one, Vernon changes the lives of several people in town.
Although slightly religious, several references to god and an afterlife, you wouldn't call this christian fiction. There are several times you will be laughing out loud with some of the things people say. The ladies in this town are great.
I think anyone who enjoyed Fannie Flaggs book "Can't wait to get to heaven" would probably enjoy this series. This is the first book in this series.
… (more)
LibraryThing member majorbabs
These are light, but interesting, particularly if you live -- or have lived -- in southeast Nebraska. They are not to be read as fiction but as sort of an extended moral tale, like Aesop's or Grimm's stories. In that light, they're quite fun.
LibraryThing member CandyH
This was a strange and silly book. I would not recommend it.
LibraryThing member Deelightful
This was a feel-good book. The characters were well realized and warm. It promoted faith without getting into a lot of religious doctrine.
LibraryThing member kelley1223
I thought this was a fun, easy, light read that makes one stop & think about what is important in life. Not too deep and the characters are fun to read about.
Great beach or vacation book




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