Ten Good Years, set in the Great Lakes region of Northern Ontario, Canada, documents the first ten years in the life of a newly married couple separated in age by some thirty years -- Jayne a young teacher from the U.S., and George, a retired veterinarian from Canada.
To fulfill George’s life-long dream of returning to a simpler way of life, they buy a large section of property located on the outskirts of the town of Bruce Mines and begin what they hope will be an idyllic existence -- only to find that fate has other plans.
While George happily struggles to repair the old farm house and cultivate the land around it, Jayne, although working by his side, struggles to cope with some deeper problems -- love and marriage, personal independence, dislike of hard work, and acceptance into a new culture and family -- all of which add an unanticipated twist to what otherwise would be an almost perfect union of marriage and place.
On the other hand, present-day Bruce Mines is possessed of a natural beauty that is as compelling to Jayne as its colorful past. And the town, unlike some of its inhabitants, does not see her nationality. Therefore, she builds a silent bond of friendship, through research and exploration, with the town, its early inhabitants, and its historical buildings, especially the old Bay View Hotel, a turn of the century Victorian mansion that is believed to be haunted. In fact, she is so impressed with what she discovers that she immediately begins to encourage a recently divorced friend, through letters, to relocate to, or buy a summer home in, Bruce Mines.
She wrote to her friend, "From where I was standing, it was easy for me to spot the Burrow girls, Frances and Bessie, their pictures had been true likenesses, and like the others they were full of life and the love of what they were doing. I watched for several minutes, then saw them glide in and glide out for their last circle. When the circle was complete, they bade their friends good-bye and took off their blades and started up the beach toward home. Their cheeks were rosy and glowing from the icy wind. Yet, they didn’t appear to feel the cold. They just tossed their bare heads back and laughed with great pleasure as they drudged through the sand-- for a full five minutes I revisited the past--"
"--the whole experience was nothing more than too much reading-- I was up to my eyeballs in the spirit of the Bay View. Nothing more. But it is an experience, even though it did not frighten me, that I won’t forget anytime soon."
The letters continue, year by year, as Jayne shares her new life experiences with her friend and with the reader. Indeed, Ten Good Years, by Alice Rose Stefani, takes the reader on an intimate journey into the many and varied dimensions of the human condition that makes up everyday life -- love, hate, jealousy, greed, despair and hope.