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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 16 January 2002
I have read a number of Anita Shreve's books now and have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. It seems that a recurring theme of her books is that 'love hurts' - there is lost love, painful love, love that is imperfect or flawed in some way. 'The Last Time They Met' is no different - Thomas and Linda appear to be made for each other but will fate actually permit them to be together forever...?
The ending is truly astonishing - I just didn't see it coming and it is literally the last paragraph so make sure you don't sneak a peek at the back page!! I didn't go back and read the whole book again like other reviewers but I certainly flicked back through various pages and re-read chunks of it to see if there were ANY clues or how it read differently once you knew what was coming.
The only slight criticism that I would say is that, for me, to begin with, it didn't seem to read as easily as some of Shreve's other books - there seemed to be huge sentences in brackets all over the place which threw me slightly. I think that was more in the Toronto section as it certainly picked up with the move to Africa - it's only really a minor niggle anyway.
This is highly recommended - a wonderful narrative, beautiful love story and that ending....WOW!
Of her others, try Eden Close - a cracking read.
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on 22 August 2001
I'm a book-a-day reader, drawing from all genres of fiction from English classics to American contemporary, which is where I picked up Anita Shreve. And couldn't put her down again. Because of the sheer volume of my reading, I have an unfortunate tendency to forget a book once read, and I never, ever re-read, but "The Last Time They Met" was an extraordinary exception. I was quite literally gobsmacked by the ending and had to immediately re-read the book, putting the days plans on hold ... This book should become a classic. Should be on the A-level syllabus.
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on 20 April 2001
There has been so much hype about Anita Shreve recently I decided to give her a go and ordered 2 off the amazon. The first, 'Strange Fits of Passion' didn't grab it and I was just wondering if I'd wasted my money when I started on this. I thought it was incredible. The prose style is beautifully crafted, without being over-polished. The dialogue is realistic, the narrative is peppered with tiny little familiar touches that ring oh so true. The structure is intelligent, the love story deeply touching....but nothing can quite prepare you for the unexpected ending, which packed a huge emotional punch.
If you are looking to begin reading any Anita Shreve's, definitely try this. It has inspired me to give more of her novels a read.
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on 20 April 2002
Anita Shreve is one of the greatest writers i have ever read. This book had me glued to my seat unable to put it down. It is a story of true passion, love that transcends time and distance and it has a truly awesome ending. The characters are real and Shreve writes them with such elegance, delving into their vulnerabilities and emotional complexities with a style that is all her own. I would highly recommend any of her books.
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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.
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on 6 August 2002
Another brilliant piece of writing by Anita Shreve.A truly superb book and hauntingly beautiful.Her evocative writing style captivates the reader drawing them deeper and deeper into the novel.The style was certainly different,moving backwards and only foccussing on a few specific periods.
The ending was unexpected and had me looking back through the book for hints or clues,initially I wasn't quite sure that I'd understood that last page.Certainly gives the reader much food for thought.Left me with a strangely sad, nostalgic feeling, that seemed to linger for days afterwards.
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on 26 March 2001
The three time sequences take some time to adjust to because as in real life memories are disjointed and incomplete. It is unusual to start with the present and work backwards and the story compels you to fill in the gaps with each sequence. This is one of a very few books recently that as soon as I got to the end I had to start again. Re-reading in light of the ending makes second reading a completely different experience. This has certainly been a unique experience for me.
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on 2 March 2005
Given the writer's reputation I hoped for more. The book starts with the lovers in their late 50s, words are used self-consciously and one gets the impression that Shreve is flaunting her vocabulary - the result is very cumbersome. The characters do not acquire any character or depth until the last few chapters of the book as teenagers. The middle section deals with their brief meeting and adulterous affair in Kenya, where again there are detailed descriptions of Kenya but no character development - the descriptions of Kenya are very realistic - I lived there at about this time and the description of LAmu is detailed and intense. I persevered through the book with grim determination and finally connected with the characters as teenagers when one started to acquire some interest in their feelings thoughts and motivations.
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on 11 August 2003
This is the 3rd of Anita shreve's books that I've read. I've enjoyed the other two, but this one is certainly the best. It is a very poignant tale centring upon Thomas and Linda, teenage lovers from very diverse backgrounds, and the love that lingers in to the future. Thomas recalls his life since meeting Linda and ponders on the way things have turned out and upon events that could have been. I found that I could not put the book down and when I got to the last page, the ending came as such a shock that I (like another reviewer) had to re-read it, just to make sure! The whole tone of the novel is very tender, but without soppiness, and the memory of it stayed with me for days after I'd finished the book. Wonderful and unforgettable!
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on 9 April 2001
Perhaps I was in the right frame of mind for this book when I picked it off the shelf ... suffering from a past rather similar to that of the novel's protagonists.
However, disregarding the sentimetal tugging at my heart strings, I can objectively say that the novel is structured to best effect, dealing with the issues of morality, duty, ethics, passion and love in a direct yet eloquent and sensitive manner.
The writer's style transforms a potentially overly sentimental subject by applying a clean and accessible critique; the onus of the novel not falling on romance itself but on the 'humaness' associated with all emotions relating to this human condition - love, hate, mistrust, duty, loyalty, sorrow, loss ...
Those looking for an discussion on human affliction will find it, those searching for 'commonalities' with their own lives will find that too, those wanting a 'good read' will be pleased but those seeking trite lines and overly-processed dialogue will be disappointed.
Fabulous book.
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