In the Land of Second Chances

by George Shaffner

Hardcover, 2004

Call number




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


Fiction. Literature. HTML: A mysterious visitor changes the fortunes of a struggling Nebraska town in this "novel full of hope, humor and singular characters" (Parade). Wilma Porter runs the only bed and breakfast in Ebb, Nebraska, and knows everyone in the small town. She also knows their troubles. Calvin Millet, for example, has an ailing daughter at home and a wife who just up and left him�??and on top of that, his department store is close to bankruptcy as a new Wal-Mart looms, and his house has been destroyed by a tornado. When a handsome stranger named Vernon L. Moore comes to town selling games of chance, more than a few eyebrows are raised. A consummate salesman, he befriends the troubled townspeople one by one. He listens to their stories and asks them intriguing questions that make them see their situations differently. The father of a dying child; the reclusive widow who's taken permanent board at the B&B; the banker with ulterior motives; and the outspoken Wilma herself are all changed by their encounters with this mysterious man who seems not of this world. After all, no one has seen a traveling salesman in Ebb for more than thirty years. But wherever he's from and whoever he is, he leaves behind a town where second chances are not only possible, they can�??and do�??happen. "If you've been charmed by Jimmy Stewart and the small-town miracles of It's a Wonderful Life, treat yourself to this unusual little novel." �??Parade "A folksy, wise and gently amusing look at the importance of living life to the fullest and not only trusting in chance, but embracing uncertainty as the spice of life." �??Rocky Mountain News "Just what the doctor ordered." �??Detroit F… (more)

User reviews

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,
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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. :)
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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 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
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 galoma
One of the dumbest books I've ever read.




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