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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
We first meet Adrienne in On Thin Ice when she's a young adult of 28 in Amsterdam. She's had two relationships: Harry, her first, a gentle soul of a man who doesn't seem to make her swoon, and Ethan, the son of a wealthy candle manufacturer, who introduces her to the finer things in life, including passion. Adrienne becomes more worldly through these experiences but really comes to life when she travels to northern Canada to visit her childhood friend, Hank, at the site where he works. After the crowded and limited landscape of Europe, the wide open spaces, flocks of wildfowl and chains of rivers and lakes of Canada stun her with their magnificence and make her their own. Adrienne, with the help of Hank and a new love interest, Bert, another worker at the site, is granted permission to establish residency in Canada provided she marries within three months.
Johanna Van Zanten has created an intriguing view of a baby-boomer generation woman who has a background that is both sheltered and cosmopolitan. She is most alive when exploring, especially in her trip to the First Nations meeting, and when she sets up her garden, where she enjoys the visits from a local bear and marvels at the Aurora Borealis. She is less successful with her love interests. Bert, her husband, opts for a long-distance job oversees and forms an attachment to an Italian woman. When their marriage ends, she becomes a match maker for her friends and marvels at the reasons why people who seem perfectly matched can't seem to get past one or two dates. Her efforts are likewise flawed, from the stiff and co-dependent British gent to the 70-year-old pensioner from Boise who takes out his hearing aid at every concert they attend. Her dating life is sad and funny all at once, but what really stands out in this entertaining piece is the lyricism when the reader sees Canada for the first time through her eyes.