Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
on 27 April 2005
"that ending...WOW!"..."shocking ending"..."memorable ending"... "overwhelming ending"...
Having read all the above and more besides in other reviews of this novel, I was full of expectation and curiosity regarding "that ending"...
It is of course difficult to talk about the ending in question without giving it away - as indeed one reviewer here unfortunately does -, and that would be unfair.
Yes, it IS unexpected (and would be all the more unexpected for someone not having been led to expect it by reading reviews...) - but it is hardly devastatingly original. In the final analysis it's narratological sleight of hand more than anything else.
However, I felt the novel did have other strengths. The plot, starting at the end of the story and working backwards through time, is very cleverly put together, with lots of details linking the three episodes of the story for the perceptive and careful reader. And, after all, we do have to gradually work backwards through time and discover people's pasts when we get to know them in adulthood. The novel is also a convincing analysis of overwhelming passion, the way in which, when in love, we gradually build a mental picture of the loved one which is very different from what is seen by a more impartial observer.
Categorised as Romance, "The Last Time They Met" avoids the excessive sentimentality which tends to be associated with that label, and rather falls somewhere in between mawkish emotion and more literary evocations of love. As such, I would put "The Last Time They Met" on a par with Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County", made into a film by Clint Eastwood. Not necessarily everyone's cup of tea - but if you like your heartstrings tugged in not too melodramatic a way, then it's for you.