Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: "The Last September" by Nina de Gramont

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to Algonquin Books for making it available!

"Homer, Dante, Milton. They knew about the middle, how all of life revolves around a single moment in time. Everything that comes before leads up to that moment. Everything that comes afterward springs from that moment. In my case, that moment—that middle—is my husband's murder."

From the moment she met him, Brett loved Charlie. The easygoing, confident, dynamic brother of her best friend Eli, Charlie quickly mesmerized Brett and captured her heart, despite Eli's warnings to the contrary. When Charlie leaves town, leaving Brett alone again at college, she feels a palpable loss even as she knows she may never see him again. But her heart doesn't care.

Years later, after many ups and downs, Brett and Charlie finally marry and live in his family's cottage on Cape Cod with their young daughter. But despite the fact that they finally have the life Brett has dreamed they'd have, life keeps intervening in different ways, particularly with the continued reappearance of Eli, whose mental illness has taken a toll on the entire family. When the unthinkable happens, Brett is at odds between holding fast to the life she dreamed of and the life she seems destined to live, and needs to determine just what sacrifices are worth the love of your life.

I really enjoyed this book, although I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, or a meditation on love, loss, and family? Were there elements to the plot that would surprise, or was the power of the plot simply in the storytelling and not in the unpredictable twists? I'll leave you to discover what happens.

Nina de Gramont is an excellent writer, and although at times I wanted to shake Brett to make her act or speak up, I found this book utterly captivating and definitely emotional. It definitely made me think how I would react if faced with the mental decline of someone I once truly cared about, someone of whom I wasn't sure whether to pity or fear. And it made me acknowledge once again how fragile love is, and how quickly our lives can change.

Give this one a shot!

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