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A lighthearted look at one man's alternative life

The Woodrow Wilson Dime - Jack Finney

Ben Bennell is a man unhappy with his life. Bored with his wife Hettie and stuck in a dull, undemanding job with little outlet for his creativity and ambition, he fantasizes about other women and hunts in vain for the big idea that will make him rich. Then a chance encounter with an unusual piece of change transports him to an alternate world, one where he enjoys wealth, success, and the woman of his dreams. Yet an encounter with the Hettie of his new home leads him to realize where his heart truly lies, and he begins a madcap quest to do whatever it will take to win her back.

Best known for his time travel novel Time and Again as well as his oft-adapted Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jack Finney was a master of nostalgia-flavored tales romanticizing the past. These elements are here in this novel as well, in which Ben Bennell's utopian alternate world is one more relaxed and respecting of its heritage than its fast-paced real-world contemporary. This is also a novel more comic than most of his other works, with a tongue-in-cheek approach best demonstrated by his main protagonist's series of harebrained schemes to win Hettie back. At times the novel can border on the ridiculous, but it is never less than entertaining and offers a lighthearted look at how the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, even when one can cross from one side to the other.