Just the right book for Valentine’s Day, or is it? Did you ever have a first love that you didn’t end up being with and wondered what would have happened if you did? What if it was forty years after the fact, that you met up again? What if you met that special someone from the past in a foreign city—perhaps where you shared wonderful memories when you were going out with each other during your youth? If you never experienced this situation, then you can definitely find out what it feels like when you read this novel. We get a glimpse through Miranda and Adam’s eyes how it feels to meet a long lost flame after what seems like a lifetime. Indeed, it is like their relationship had happened in another life, as they are now both married to other people and have children of their own. Miranda is constantly thinking about how she must look in Adam’s eyes since they are both senoirs when they meet again, and she fights with the demons of the past which caused the break up to begin with. She continues to convince herself that she has forgiven Adam for hurting her, but she really wonders deep down if she really is over it after all this time. What is intriguing here is that Miranda has a secret of her own, which she doesn’t tell Adam about until they reunite in Italy. It sort of makes you question why Adam seems to be the only “bad” person in this equation. We relive the sad moment when Adam betrays Miranda as we travel back in their thoughts to that day. Looking at their relationship when they were young and naive makes them reflect on how they may have changed (or if they ever did change with regards to personality)—for physically, they know they will never be the same. Does this detail discourage them from hoping that maybe there still might be something between them? No. They separately analyse their past in their own thoughts and only speak of it out loud when the time comes for Miranda to leave. Throughout the rest of the story, their daily tours around Italy engage them in philosopical conversations and also remind them how their attitudes toward certain things still have not changed. This novel is about heartache and loss, but also about forgiving and trying to accept the mistakes that were made in the past without feeling deep regrets for those actions. It’s about reminiscing on those days when love was fresh and exciting, but it is also about living in the moment and taking nothing for granted. So, is this a good Valentine’s Day read? It depends how you look at it!
If you enjoyed The Love of My Youth and the way Mary Gordon writes, we have many other books by her that you may be interested in looking at. Click the link below to see the list of her titles:
Mary Gordon’s books
To read reviews on this novel, please consult the links below.
From The New York Times:
From the Los Angeles Times:
For information about Mary Gordon, see below:
Here are some questions to answer after you have read the book:
-Do you find meaning in the fact that Adam’s name exists in the reverse spelling of Miranda’s? Adam is, of course, the name of the first man in the Bible, his story beginning before he and Eve taste of the Tree of Knowledge. Do you think Adam’s name fits his character and, if so, in what ways?
-Do you recognize yourself in any of the characters, particularly with regards to Adam and Miranda, and their spouses, children, or parents? If so, in what ways are you similar, and to what extent do you differ?
Below you will find the link from the LitLovers website which has provided the thoughtful questions for group discussions (including those that I have posed above):
According to psychologist Nancy Kalish’s recent research, reunited lost loves between 2005 and 2006 usually ended in heartbreak or sorrow. When compared to her first research done in 1993, the overall success rate was 72%. The reason for such a drastic change between the two results is technology. People these days try to reconnect through social networks online, even if they are married—which could be disastrous. Kalish’s recommendation is that “for married people who think often about a lost love, the healing has to come from within, and not from meeting the lost love”.
To read the full article, please click on the link below:
This book reminded me of …
The one other novel that sticks out for me when I read this story was The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The reason for this was because of the philosophical questions and answers that are continuously being raised by the main characters throughout the book. The two titles share the same tone in that way: a lot of reflection on character, on the past, the present and even the future.
Favorite quote from book:
“In order to have had the children we have, we had to lead our lives exactly as we did. Therefore, there can be no regrets.” (p. 283)
Most eager moment in the story:
It all comes down to the query in Miranda and Adam’s heads that has been plaguing them throughout their meetings in Italy. Once everything is out in the open—all secrets and feelings, should they try to get together again and begin a love affair after all these years, despite both of them being currently married to other people? (p. 292-297)
Next month’s title:
Dancing Lessons by Olive Senior