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The Last Time They Met
ANITA SHREVE

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
486 reviews (2001) (352p)
Amazon.com Best Books

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Book Description
A man and a woman sustain a life-long passionate relationship even though they have been together only three times.

At a literary festival in Toronto, Linda Fallon encounters the man who was once at the center of her life: Thomas Janes, the famous poet. Since last seeing him, she has married, given birth, and been widowed. Thomas' appearance rocks Linda, raises questions she had long abandoned, and inspires new dreams.

The Last Time They Met moves backward to explore Linda's life years earlier, at age 26, when an affair with Thomas shattered her life, and at age 17, when they first met.

In this mesmerizing novel, Shreve examines the resilience of emotion and the extraordinary repercussions a single choice, even a single word, can have over a lifetime.


Amazon.com Review
The Last Time They Met opens with two old lovers, both poets, running into each other at a writer's conference. Well, Linda Fallon and Thomas Janes aren't old, actually--just middle-aged, with a lifetime's worth of history between them. In the first section, Anita Shreve only suggests what that history contains: there was adultery, we gather, and a car accident, plus some illicit encounters under a pitiless Kenyan sun. Presumably the rest of the book will lead back to the beginnings of this grand passion, right? We think we know where this is going--but that's the tricky part, because we don't.

The novel does get off to a slow start, with an unnecessarily drawn-out description of a luxury hotel. But it picks up speed as it moves backward in time, from the lovers' vividly evoked interlude in Africa, to their adolescent years in the Massachusetts village of Hull, and finally to Linda's deepest, darkest secret. Only then does the author unveil her final revelation, which should leave most readers somewhat out of breath, and possibly even obliged to turn back to the first page and read the book over again. Shreve is a canny storyteller, and she knows her characters inside and out. (As well she might: Thomas is the husband of Jean, the photographer in The Weight of Water.) And The Last Time They Met is yet another example of the kind of book she does best--one that's as skillfully plotted as a thriller, but with writing that lingers long after the last plot twist is unfurled. No matter whether people actually have affairs like these. Reading this book only makes you wish that they did. --Mary Park


Anita Shreve Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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