Book Review: The First Warm Evening of the Year by Jamie M. Saul
May 18, 2012 4 Comments
Number of pages: 298
First published: 2012
Genre: contemporary fiction
I got this book: for review from William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins)
This book is a very well-written, well-developed story, but one that I only liked so-so. I’m sure it’s me and not the book. 🙂
I think I was misled by the cover (an easy summer read?) and the description from the publishers (below), making this look like a book in which the main character goes to research his own past on the basis of what he finds in the estate of his late friend Laura. But it wasn’t really like that.
The First Warm Evening of the Year: What it is about
Description (from the publishers): “Geoffrey Tremont and Laura Wells were friends in college. After graduation they lost touch, and now, twenty years later, Geoffrey is more than a little confused to discover that Laura has named him executor of her estate. Though she left no explanation, Geoffrey agrees to honor the final request of this woman who was once his closest friend.
Traveling to the small town of Shady Grove, New York, Geoffrey gets to know the people who were most influential in Laura’s life, particularly her best friend Marian. To Geoffrey’s surprise, the more he learns about Laura’s life, the more he seems to be discovering about himself—knowledge that transforms him in subtle yet profound ways.
In this emotionally compelling love story, Jamie M. Saul explores the intricate relationships between siblings and friends; how we lose the passions of life and rekindle them; and, ultimately, how to discover the courage to reach out for love.”
The First Warm Evening of the Year: What I thought it was about
If you ask me, this book is about a man, Geoffrey, who has a relationship with Rita, but they’re both not very committed to each other. When he travels to Shady Grove to deal with his late friend Laura’s estate, he meets Marian, a friend of Laura and a widow of ten years, who is in an unsatisfactory relationship.
He falls in love/like/must-have with her, and talks to her, his brother, her former in-laws, her lover, and a number of other people about her past, Laura’s past, himself and his chances of wooing Marian. Marian keeps a distance but is attracted to him too. Geoffrey wants to understand Marian’s relationship with her former husband and her current relationship to be able to understand her, and to make her see that she should be with him, Geoffrey instead.
The First Warm Evening of the Year: What I thought of the book
This is definitely a psychological novel about relationships and how they form a person. It was very different from what I expected, and too slow for me. In fact, I got bored. At about 3/4s of the book, I didn’t really care much how the story continued.
Saying that, it was beautifully written, not a word wrong, and the story, if you like this type of book, was developed very well. It was just not for me.
Other than that, I thought it was really odd that someone would go and talk about Marian with all kinds of people, most of which didn’t even know him. The discussions were quite detailed and it just didn’t feel to me that would be possible. Geoffrey was trusted and liked instantly by most people, it seemed, and they all had the time (and the inclination) to discuss Marian (and Laura) with him.
Also, why Marian should go along with it wasn’t clear to me. She did like him, did show some reluctance to get to know him, but she didn’t send him off as I’m sure I would do. I’d be flattered at first, but at finding out that someone had been talking about me to several different people, I’d be ready to get rid of that scary stalker for sure! 🙂
For people who like a good psychological novel, I think this is a high-quality read, if you can get around the more unlikely bits of the story I described above.