The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve


Author: Anita Shreve

Title: The Last Time They Met

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 313

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Kenya (Africa), Massachusetts

Time Period: contemporary, varies

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Linda and Thomas are two poets who have loved each other for years, but they had only three encounters in their lives. The story starts as they meet at a writer’s conference in Toronto, where they are both expected to read from their works. They are both in their fifties and despite previous marriages and living in separation the sparks still fly between them. Then, the story moves to Kenya when the couple is 26 and meets for the second time. Both married, they have a disastrous love affair and Thomas loses his daughter. The last part of the book goes back to the time of their high school years. Linda, an orphan and a victim of abuse gets healed through Thomas’s understanding and passionate love. This emotional, lyrically written novel tells about a love that is impossible to get over. The constantly raised question is why these two people who appear to be destined to be with each other were initially separated. As the story goes backward in time and explores Thomas and Linda’s relationship, the characters appear to grow in reverse as well. The stunning ending changes the perspective of the whole story and allows literary fiction fans to savor the novel while rereading it all over again.

Subject Headings: Married people – fiction, Women poets – fiction, Forgiveness – fiction, Adultery – fiction, Poets – fiction, Psychological fiction

Appeal: thought-provoking, emotional, character-centered, thoughtful, intelligently written, complex plot, compelling, character driven, intricately plotted, love scenes, rich descriptions, dreamy atmosphere, romantic, lyrical prose, intriguing, unpredictable end, unique plot

3 terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, emotional, unique plot

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Love in Verse: Classic Poems of the Heart by Kathleen Blease (as Thomas was writing love letters and poems to Linda, this book is a collection of love poems; both books share a romantic and lyrical writing style)

A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman (this book examines love, the main theme of The Last Time They Met, from a scientific, psychological, and philosophical perspective)

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (as Shreve’s novel richly describes Kenya, this story reflects one’s life and experience as a political activist and environmentalist in this country; since this is an autobiography, it may appeal to fans of character-centered stories like The Last Time They Met)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler (like Shreve’s novel it is a character-driven, thoughtful and reflective novel with the focus on relationship; the main characters of both novels reflect on their past life through a “what if” perspective, trying to imagine their lives with another person)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (both novels are character-centered, lyrical, and romantic; the main characters of both novels share passionate love after years of waiting and separation; the exotic setting of the novel may appeal to these who enjoyed Shreve’s descriptions of Kenya)

Possession by A.S. Byatt (like The Last Time They Met it is a character-centered, lyrical, romantic love story; the main characters are modern day scholars researching the lives of a couple of Victorian poets, which can resemble the lives of Shreve’s characters)

Name: Anna


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One Response to “The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve”

  1. David Says:

    This is a great book. I have read everything by Anita Shreve and this is one of her very best. My favorite is actually The Weight of Water. These two books are somewhat related although there is no need to be concerned about which you read first. I love her technique of jumping in time to intertwine two connected story lines that involve the same characters.

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