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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The narrator of this interesting novel is never named and that makes her all the more mysterious and untrustworthy. The last night referred to in the title of the novel is a visit to the Ritz hotel in Boston by three long time friends - Len, Gay and the narrator herself. Len and Gay are married and the narrator's husband is not present though a friend of hers appears in a carefully stage managed accidental meeting. But it is not the evening itself which takes up most of the book but the narrator's reminiscences about their lives up to that point.

It is hinted at many times that this will be their last meeting but only hinted at and never fully explained. I found I liked the narrator and got exasperated with her by turns. The early part of the book reminded me of Mary McCarthy's The Group but the book quickly changed after about the first third and became very definitely a book on its own. I enjoyed the writing style and the really funny one liners scattered throughout. I especially liked the description of the narrator's feelings about flying.

Many relationships are unexplained and the reader is left to make up their own mind about them and form their own opinion of the narrator and her friends. Is it necessary to be wholly honest with friends is the question which seems to be hovering over the whole book. Is it ever possible to be wholly honest with anyone? I think this would probably be an excellent book club choice as there will be as many opinions about it as there are readers.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Savage was born in 1918 and this novel, about four friends meeting up at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, was first published in 1973. The narrator is unnamed, but her best friend since she started college is called Gay and her husband, known almost as long, is Len. This is a meandering recounting of the narrator's life and her long friendship with Gay, of life's triumphs, losses, betrayals and loves. The two women are opposites of each other - Gay is neat, organised and a respector of rules and her friend the opposite, but they are loyal to each other and forgive each other through the years.
Our narrator, who is childless, has a deep love for Gay's son, and you feel the two women have deep bonds, forged through the years.

This would be ideal for readers who enjoy Elizabeth Taylor or Elizabeth Bowen, both authors that deal with the relationships of women. It also gives a good view of women's lives around the forties and fifties and how the changes in society unfold around them. Lastly, it is a testament to friendship and the fact that people can come through difficulties if they love each other - even if they don't always like or approve of each others actions.
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on 5 December 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Good books don't particularly need strong plots to be successful- a strong sense of atmosphere, place and striking insight can be enough to make a great book- but unfortunately despite the author's best efforts this story doesn't achieve much on any of those fronts.

I thought the initial premise was very good and was what attracted me-a meeting of middle aged friends in a top Boston hotel to 'catch up' with each other. This central idea though is muddied by too many flashbacks to the narrator's college days with her best friend Gay [a woman who as is the case with many best friends, one got the sense the narrator actually didn't like very much] and other asides which distrupted what could have been an effective, simple narrative. The characters are not very likeable and, despite the amount of booze they put back, strangely flat and unalluring. In the end, the book fails to make any real impact and to be honest- and at too many times- this reader at any rate had to ask himself if he had enough interest in it all to keep reading. All in all, an unexpected disappointment.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One of Nancy Pearl's 'Book Lust Rediscoveries' I must admit that I hadn't heard of the author before, let alone this book. Currently being brought back into print as part of the series, this is possibly one of those books that shouldn't have been out of print in the first place.

We never know the name of the narrator as she tells this tale. As middle aged friends meet for lunch at the Ritz Carlton in Boston, not only do we read about the actual lunch, but also we are allowed back into the past, how these people met, what relationships they had and we find out some things that have been kept secret, up until the get together.

You could argue that nothing really happens here, but this is so well written and you are drawn in from the beginning and you want to finish this. This won't be for everyone, but if you want something that will keep you gripped, then this might be worth considering. In some ways this would make a very good film.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The last night in question is an evening spent at The Ritz in Boston, at which three friends meet for what promises to be the very last time. The story revolves around the lives of these three middle-aged women, as they reflect on their respective and intertwined pasts. The author pokes again and again at the matter of honesty in relationships: whether one could or should always be honest with those nearest and dearest, or whether it is better sometimes to hide the truth, make pretences and thereby protect, shield or defend a relationship. The fakery that may develop as a friend or relative is deceived, for whatever reason, poses questions that are not entirely resolved in the story. The loose ends are many, especially when it comes to the incompletely told stories of the three women. As such, it's something that I suppose would make a good book-group read, as opinions are bound to be divided. It's a bit slow going at times, and for me there is a little too much navel-gazing introspection, but it's a worthwhile reprint of a book first published in the 1970s.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 October 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"The Last Night at the Ritz" was first published in 1973 and is now republished after being championed by librarian Nancy Pearl (who also provides an introduction, discussion questions, and an intriguing further reading list). The action is narrated by a woman in her fifties who the day before has met up with her best friend Gay, Gay's husband, and her lover, for the 'last night' of the title. The narrator's account of the night, which is fuelled by alcohol, resentments, secrets, and tenderness, is interspersed with her reminiscences which date back to when she first attended college with Gay.

The narrator's friendship with Gay forms the heart of the book and is movingly and realistically rendered. The two women are very different: Gay is perfectly turned out, virtuous, and disapproving, whereas the narrator is irreverent, louche, and probably drinks too much. What unites the woman, though, is a love of reading and one of the many pleasures of this novel are the literary references sprinkled throughout the text.

Elizabeth Savage is a talented writer and the novel contains many memorable characters, settings, and turns of phrase. I particularly enjoyed the following observation, made by the narrator about her godchild: 'Boys are nice at ten. They are old enough to talk to and some of the things they say are quite interesting. And they haven't yet made the sad discovery of themselves and drawn apart, appalled and enchanted.' Other reviewers have mentioned Mary McCarthy's "The Group" in connection with this book, and Nancy Pearl in her introduction brings up "Mad Men". Both comparisons are fitting and reading this very enjoyable novel one is immersed in a vanished world containing eternal human truths.
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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Another super choice from Nancy Pearl's Rediscoveries, as a librarian and broadcaster she has one of the most ideal jobs in the world. By drawing attention to these long lost and often (especially to me) completely unknown authors she is leading the reading public through lost gems of literature.

Elizabeth Savage is a writer of great elegance and style, almost an anachronism in these days of vanity publishing, celeb biogs and an increasing amount of unedited texts. Her style is both personal ~ the first person character hints to an intimacy we can indulge in, and the universal ~ how many of us readers have experienced the "do you remember when" dinner parties that can spiral in to therapeutic musings on loss and change.

Written in the 1970s, so often described as the decade that taste forgot, it refers to an earlier and possibly more substantial time.

Anyone picking up this book for a good read will not be disappointed as Ms Pearl knows her onions and selects her own favourite stylists in her series. The texture of the narrative is rich and convoluted, as are our memories. The language is piquant, I was reminded of of Connell's "Bridge" stories more than anything else with a refreshing look back through the eyes of somebody who was really there, I suspect I spotted even a dash of Woolf in the stream of consciousness style

A bit of a treat all round, really
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Four friends converge for a night at Boston's Ritz - the unidentified "I" who invited them, her former lover Wes, her best friend Gay with husband Len. The meeting will prove pivotal in their lives....

The cover blurb intrigued. If only the novel had too! So much of its contents seemed inconsequential and pretentious. The main characters lacked appeal, the innumerable recollections (and details of liquor consumed) rarely of interest. Any real action is confined to the last few pages, it somewhat contrived and melodramatic.

Thank goodness for Gay's gran! The book springs to life with the description of her extraordinary ramshackle home. She herself is at once a colourful, forthright personality - ardent feminist with a low opinion of men (although she is fond of the nine in the house). She declares kissing to be "swopping spit".

Sadly she only features briefly, but in just a few pages has far greater impact than the others who bore at such length.

Sorry, but I did not take to this at all.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2015
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I couldn't really get on with The Last Night at the Ritz. Sold to me as a book about old friends reuniting over dinner and secrets being spilled instead I read a book about uninteresting people who find themselves fascinating.

The characters all lead privileged lives and their troubles were minor. I would often find myself rereading a page because I was struggling to pay any attention. A few good lines did stick out but with a novel the book needs to work as a whole, not just a few good one-liners.

Overall it was a disappointment and not really worth the time it takes to read.
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on 5 June 2013
This was on an Amazon deal and I'm so glad I bought it! Interesting characters and relationships, really well written. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it
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