In 1923 Olivia Westerly holds her head high and marches out of her Virginia home. At a time when the highest ambition of most of her girlfriends is to marry and have babies, Olivia knows for certain that isn’t the life for her. At the age of 25 she decides to live her life on her own terms, despite her father condemning her decision and then telling her never to come home. Olivia gets a job, earns a living, and holds suitors interested in marriage at bay. There is no way, she thinks, she will ever allow herself to get dragged down by a bunch of screaming, irritating children.
Forty years later the unexpected happens—Olivia falls in love. Head over heels over head again in love. She meets Charlie Doyle, a charming widower with a grown son and a grandson. Charlie has no connection with his family, and he and Olivia quickly become a small family of their own. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the two head to Miami for a honeymoon. Despite certain superstitions Olivia throws caution to the wind, enjoying every day of their blissful marriage of a lengthy 22 days. But on their honeymoon Charlie dies unexpectedly, and Olivia feels the hard slap of her new role as widow.
Olivia manages to go home to Charlie’s apartment in the small town of Wyattsville, Virginia. While dubious at first, Charlie’s neighbors begin to warm up to Olivia, helping her work through her grief and begin living life again. And then life drops another complication into Olivia’s lap in the form of Charlie’s grandson, Ethan Allen Doyle.
Ethan Allen’s upbringing has been anything but ideal, and he knows firsthand the value of loss: both of his parents die in brutal circumstances within hours of one another. Having nowhere else to go, Ethan Allen finds a ride to Wyattsville hoping to live with the grandfather who sends him money and a card on his birthday every year. But when Ethan Allen arrives on Olivia’s doorstep, this unlikely grandson and grandmother don’t have the slightest clue what to do with one another.
Crosby’s trademark sweetness shines through the book. Despite the crassness of certain characters, readers can depend on Crosby’s skillful weaving of the story to bring those characters to where they need to be. Some of the situations may seem a little too pat, but readers won’t mind much at all. The characters endear themselves to readers from the start, and that quality comes straight from their creator. Crosby has given readers another enjoyable novel, and this reviewer highly recommends Spare Change.