The Last Time They Met: A short review of Anita Shreve’s novel

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve, read by Blair Brown:
A Short Review by Rickey E. Pittman

I was pleasantly surprised with Anita Shreve’s  novel, The Last Time They Met. It is another audio book in five CDs, read by award-winning actress Blair Brown.  This a novel that will make you think about the nature and intensity of love and the inner and outer world of writers. Though there are several reviews on the Web, I prefer to not read the reviews of others until I’ve posted my own, so I guess I’ll get them later.  Shreve is also the author of The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water, which I’ve previously reviewed on my blog, A Southern Missive. She has several other novels in print and I intend to read them all. When an author can rattle me with two good books, it is likely that anything she wrote is worth reading. Shreve has a fine website. You can find it here:

Here is a summary of The Last Time They Met from the CD jacket:
Linda Fallon encounters her former love, Thomas Janes at a literary festival where both have been invited to give readings from their work.  It has been years since their paths cross and in that time Thomas has become a kind of literary legend.  His renown is enhanced by his elusiveness; for most of the past decade, he has remained in seclusion following a devastating loss.

From the moment they speak, The Last Time They met unfolds the story of Linda and Thomas in an extraordinary way; it travels back into their past, bypassing layers of memory and interpretation to present their earlier encounters with unshakable immediacy.  The novel recreates love at its exhilarating pinnacle–the kind of intense connections that becomes the true north against which all relationships are measured.  Moving backward through time, The Last Time They Met traces the shocking resonance a single choice, even a single word, can have over the course of a lifetime.”

The technique impressed me as it is a story written in reverse chronology that leads you to the very surprising and sad ending.  There are many good quotes I could suggest, but I’ll close with the last lines describing Thomas who takes his own life, but not before he has “known  the unforgiving light of the equator, a love that exist only in his imagination, and the enduring struggle to capture in words the endless possibilities of a life not lived.”