The Last Time They Met: Anita Shreve

This is another crap book by Anita Shreve. Sorry for being so blunt about it but the writing was crappy, the plot line hard to follow and the ending was messy.

“The weight of his losses finally too much to bear.

But not before he has known the unforgiving light of the equator, a love that exists only in his imagination, and the enduring struggle to capture in words the infinite possibilities of a life not lived.

I’ve hated her other book too Body Surfing * Anita Shreve but I thought maybe, maybe it was a one-off.

Nope. This second paperback (dated 2012) was as un-inspired and insipid as the other book. It’s a book about star-crossed teenaged lovers who meet later in life and then go through the anguish of adultery. Oh. and there’s some snippets about Africa. And a twist at the end which is very much like “The Sixth Sense”.

This book has a gimmick for an ending which negates the rest of the book. I can understand why this is read by book clubs as there is much to discuss, such as, what is the purpose of this book?

The first challenge is the novel’s backward chronology. In order to make that work, the author has to include just the right amounts of information to tease the reader without leaving them baffled. She didn’t hit the mark, in my opinion. I was a little baffled and mostly irritated with what she did and did not include. Try as I might, I just couldn’t follow her scraps of information (surely meant to create suspense) well enough to really know or even care what the story was.

The second challenge is the topic of infidelity. This novel slipped too far over that line for me – where the characters’ “we’re meant to be together so screw our spouses” philosophy was too immature and selfish for me to tolerate.

“That I have no right to be jealous is irrelevant. It is a human passion: the sick, white underbelly of love.”

Which leads me to the third and biggest challenge: the characters aren’t likable, and the author really doesn’t give you enough information to even make them interesting or knowable. It wasn’t until the characters were 17 years old – on page 238 – that the author finally gave us enough information about the characters to finally give me something to hang onto.
The book is essentially a three part story of an over-powering, but doomed, love affair between two talented writers who meet at a literary festival in Toronto in their 50’s.

This is going in the charity pile. 1/5

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