The Last Time I Saw You
A NovelBook - 2010
To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You , this reunion means something different-a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.
As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it's a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet-or at least that's what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it's the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.
As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.
In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances.
From the Hardcover edition.
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After Dorothy hangs up, she inspects herself in the mirror again. She’s going to have lunch with her daughter, and Hilly can be very critical. Honest, she calls it, and it is honest, Dorothy supposes, but it’s also barbed-wire critical.
of course he remembers Mary Alice. One of the uncool nerds, like him. Kids used to be pretty mean to her. He remembers a time a group of jocks made catcalls after her as she walked down the hall. He’d wanted to defend her – what was the _point_ in that kind of cruelty? – but hesitated out of fear of being attacked himself. But then he saw that she didn’t seem in need of being defended: she’d held her head high and walked steadily on, seemingly impervious to their taunting. And there that knot of thick-necked boys stood: utterly ignored, suddenly looking sort of foolish.
Imagine if, when they were kids, they’d gone on and on over health concerns, their measles and mumps, their skinned knees and broken wrists and cavities. _Yeah, I was really worried about a staph infection with that skinned knee!_ Or _Broken wrist, man alive, what a problem. I have to write with my left hand! I can’t take a bath! Can’t play volleyball! What will_ happen _to me?_ No. They did not complain when they were kids, with rare exception. They just went on with their temporary ailments, waiting to get right again. They got their casts signed and made it fun!
He’s known men like Candy’s husband seems to be, and the kindest thing he can say about them is that he will never understand them, the way they deny themselves happiness and contentment because of a kind of stinginess and general obstinacy toward their wives, if not a weird sort of hatred. He thinks that such men feel there is a pattern of behavior that must be adhered to during courtship; after that, the onus is on the woman – and the woman alone – to please.
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