Friday, June 22, 2012

The First Warm Evening of the Year, by Jamie M. Saul

Geoffrey Tremont is a New York bachelor, who does voiceover work and has a comfortable three-year relationship with a lovely woman named Rita. Then he gets a letter asking if he will serve as executor of his old friend Laura's estate. He has not seen Laura for 20 years--since she moved to Paris to play in her new husband's jazz combo--and is shocked to learn she lived the last ten years of her life in her small upstate New York hometown, teaching music at the high school. When he gets to Shady Grove, he meets her childhood friend Marian, and is instantly attracted to her. But Marian, too, has spent a decade mourning her dead husband Buddy. She, too, is in a relationship that lacks passion. Geoffrey and Marian and Rita and Marian's boyfriend Eliot and Geoffrey's brother Alex (a psychiatrist) and Buddy's parents spend pages and pages talking about love and life and grief. And it's all quite dull!

Laura's ne'er-do-well brother Simon shows up, and, for a while, it seems that he might offer the twist the book needs to wake the reader back up.  But the entire Simon subplot amounts to little and is resolved in a totally ridiculous way.

Jamie Saul undoubtedly intended to stimulate readers to think about love, loss, and engaging with life. But I found The First Warm Evening of the Year to be essentially a romance novel from the male perspective.  Not feeling good about O Magazine's summer reading recommendations after this one!

Favorite passage:

"You're going to be hard to replace." Rita lifted my hand and held it against the front of her coat. "Oh well, what's the point of having a heart, if you're not going to use it?"

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