April 20, 2010

The Last Time I Saw You

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
2010 Random House
Finished on 4/10/10
Rating: 2.5/5 (Average)

Publisher's Blurb:

From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.

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.

My 30th high school reunion is this summer and I haven't decided if I'm going to go or not. I've only attended one (the 10th) and, quite honestly, it was a little boring. I've reconnected with a few friends via Facebook, but most of the people I hung around with were a few years ahead of me. I'm sure it'd be fun to catch up with some of my old classmates, and I know I wouldn't hesitate if I still lived in the area, but this would involve more than just hopping in the car and heading out to Del Mar. And yet, what a perfect excuse for a trip to Southern California! :)

In her new novel, Berg peoples the story with shallow and superficial characters, stereotypical situations and silly dialogue ("That's for me to know and you to find out."). I was so pleased with her previous novel (Home Safe) and quickly grabbed a copy of The Last Time I Saw You, hoping for another gem. While lacking substance and peopled with forgettable characters, I still managed to zip through this fluffy read in a day or so. With 20 novels under her belt, perhaps it's time to take a break.

Final thoughts: Beach read!


  1. Oh this is disappointing, Les. Mostly I have enjoyed Berg's novels (my favorite being Talk Before Sleep)...looks like I can skip this one.

  2. My thoughts exactly!! I love, love her, but this one certainly wasn't my favorite...lacked the depth she usually brings.

  3. Anonymous6:12 AM

    Hmmmm...I have this one on my Kindle. I will not rush to read it. I run kind of hot and cold with Elizabeth Berg. Kind of have to be in the mood I guess. I usually like these ensemble cast type books though and also looking back in time. Maybe I should just read Pat Conroy's South of Broad instead. LOL

  4. I'm so disappointed to see that the book's not great, because I'm crazy about the cover.

    You're almost as old as I am - it's been 35 years since I graduated from high school.

  5. Your rating made me sad...then I read your review and now I'm even sadder...this one is upstairs waiting for me. I love Berg and don't want to be disappointed. But I'm still going to read it!

  6. I've only read a couple of Berg's books and I really enjoyed one and really thought the other was only mediocre. This one sounds like one I can easily pass on.

  7. I just finished this book and couldn't agree with you more. I'm a huge Berg fan, especially her earlier works, but this one was unrealistic and silly.

  8. The book really doesn't sound appealing. I'm so not a reunion person. I'm still friends with the ones I was friends with then, and I don't really care about seeing others. I still live in the area, and I sometimes run into former classmates, but really very rarely, which is surprising since this is a small place.

  9. Wendy - I know. The great books by Berg are getting harder to find. I really loved her earlier stuff. Now it's all silly and tired.

    Talk Before Sleep was one of my favorites. Probably because it was my first.

    Jill - I still enjoy her blog posts, though. Check 'em out, if you haven't already.

    Kay - I wonder what you'll think of this one. She really does run hot & cold, doesn't she? This one was just plain silly and weak. Go for Conroy's instead! :)

    Kathy - You know, all of her books have great covers. Too bad they don't all have the quality of her earlier works.

    So will you go to your 40th reunion? ;)

    Staci - Yeah. It made me sad, too. I really wanted to love this book. I got sucked in and read it very quickly, but it was just so trite and silly. :( I hope you enjoy it better than I did!

    Lisa - I would. Pass on it, that is. If you want to read something else by her, try one of her earlier works. I think the first dozen, or so, were her best.

    Jan - Yep. Bummer, huh? Do you read her blog? I still enjoy that quite a bit. It sounds more like what I love about her earlier books.

    Nan - I'm almost certain you wouldn't enjoy it. As far as reunions, I think I might go out for mine. I keep in touch with some of my friends from high school, but since I haven't lived in the area for almost 20 years, I thought it'd be fun to go back and see some of my old friends. Plus, any reason to go to San Diego is a good thing! :)


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