About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Friday, April 20, 2012

#32: The Last Time I Saw You

The Last Time I Saw You, by Elizabeth Berg (New York: Random House, 2010)

"From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another -- and themselves -- at their fortieth high school reunion.

"To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different -- a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or simply an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.

"As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Peter Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it's a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Hessenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet -- or at least that's what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it's the hope of finding friendship before it's too late.

"As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen. 

"In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances."

Opening Line:
"Dorothy Shauman Ledbetter Shauman is standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her black half-slip and black push-up bra, auditioning a look."

My Take:
I've read a few of Berg's novels over the years and my general impression is that they're solid if a bit inconsistent. I remember really enjoying Range of Motion, though none of the others stick in my head quite as clearly. Five chapters in and I'm most taken with Dorothy's humanness and vulnerability so far; Mary Alice seems just too meek and perfect, and Peter too stereotypically in hound dog, dump-your-loyal-wife-for-a-younger-woman midlife crisis mode. Lester has potential, though the long-ago loss of his pregnant wife and his absolute lack of interest in anything romantic since then seems a bit melodramatic. If nothing else, it'll be a good lazy weekend read after a busy week.

Not awful, and a fairly quick read, but not especially funny, entertaining, or memorable, either.

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