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The Last Night at the Ritz (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Savage , Nancy Pearl
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Brazen, candid, and always willing to take chances, the unnamed and not entirely trustworthy narrator of The Last Night at the Ritz celebrates her birthday with three old and dear friends. Two of them, Gay and Len, are a long-married couple and her best friends from college. The third, Wes, was once her lover.

Organizing a luncheon at Boston’s esteemed Ritz Carlton—an old favorite of the group’s—the narrator expects the occasion will be an excellent chance to catch up with her friends and enjoy each other’s company. But almost immediately upon arriving at the hotel, she senses things are different, though she can’t quite put her finger on what’s wrong. Even the Ritz has changed, no longer displaying the lion—its trademark symbol of hospitality—on its ashtrays.

As the afternoon gives way to evening and as the drinks flow, the past and present intrude upon the festivities and the atmosphere turns somber. Before the night is through, truths and secrets slip out that will change their relationships forever.

Back in print for the first time in a generation, The Last Night at the Ritz, a masterfully written novel of friendship and love and the ways we deceive each other and ourselves, is quite simply unforgettable.

About the Author

Elizabeth Savage was the acclaimed author of numerous novels, including The Girls of the Five Great Valleys, Summer of Pride, But Not for Love, A Fall of Angels, and Happy Ending. She lived in Maine and was married to the novelist Thomas Savage. She died in 1989.

Nancy Pearl is a librarian and lifelong reader. She regularly comments on books on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Her books include 2003’s Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason, 2005’s More Book Lust: 1,000 New Reading Recommendations for Every Mood, Moment and Reason; Book Crush: For Kids and Teens: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Interest, published in 2007, and 2010’s Book Lust To Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers. Among her many awards and honors are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal; the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association; the 2010 Margaret E. Monroe Award from the Reference and Users Services Association of the American Library Association; and the 2004 Women's National Book Association Award, given to "a living American woman who …has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation."


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 352 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonEncore (Oct. 2 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IWF6FW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy at a remove... Oct. 6 2012
By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Elizabeth Savage wrote and published her novel, "The Last Night at the Ritz" in 1973, which is a fact worth noting when reading it today. It has been reissued as part of the "Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries" series. Events in the early 1970's to which Savage alludes are as much at a "remove" from the reader as the feelings that are expressed by the unnamed narrator to those events. "Ritz" is a cool book on the surface with a fair amount going on with the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn't establish a lot of connection with the characters, and their problems left me somewhat cold. Now, that doesn't mean "Ritz" is a bad book; it isn't at all. It's just a little like reading a book about the natives of some Pacific Island; you close the book after finishing it and say, "oh, that was interesting". And then go on with your day.

The main characters - two former college roommates at an unnamed coed college in Maine - meet up in Boston for a visit. The "unnamed narrator" - who I will refer to as "UN" - has a tangled past with her roommate and the roommate's husband of 30 or so years. They all attended college together in the late 1930's and the husband, like many of his contemporaries went into service in WW2. He came back to a bride and a job in the publishing industry in Boston. They had two sons together, who, by the early 1970's were part of that disaffected generation - my generation - tangling with the societal mores of the time, as well as the ever-present Vietnam War draft. The sons of Gay and Len were a tangential - but important - part of the story because their lives affected those of their parents.

The narrator, Gay, Len, and several others - (including an old lover of the "UN") drink. They drink a lot. That was fairly common in that generation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read Jan. 31 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved this book; easy to read, but well written. Left you with a lot to think about which I like in a book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  99 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There is no knowledge like the bitter knowledge of old loves." Sept. 20 2012
By K. L. Cotugno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"There is no knowledge like the bitter knowledge of old loves." This sentence, appearing early in the novel, pretty much sums it up. The unnamed narrator has had a complicated relationship with her "best friend" Gay since they first met in college 30 years before. Their story is told in interior monologue formed of reminisces and flashbacks over the course of a day in which the two women meet at the Ritz in Boston, but this is a tricky novel and all is not as it first appears. As revelations develop, we realize our narrator is not being entirely truthful with either us or herself. Thanks to Nancy Pearl for resuscitating this fine book which is far from dated, reads more like a time capsule. Two eras are beautifully rendered, that of the college days of the two leading ladies, and their world 30 years following that and their take on the encroachment of a younger, freer generation with bare feet and peace symbols embroidered on their butts. This is a wonderful novel of manners of that transitional time, beautifully written with memorable lines including my favorite: "It is very dangerous to get caught without something to read."
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy at a remove... Oct. 6 2012
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Elizabeth Savage wrote and published her novel, "The Last Night at the Ritz" in 1973, which is a fact worth noting when reading it today. It has been reissued as part of the "Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries" series. Events in the early 1970's to which Savage alludes are as much at a "remove" from the reader as the feelings that are expressed by the unnamed narrator to those events. "Ritz" is a cool book on the surface with a fair amount going on with the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn't establish a lot of connection with the characters, and their problems left me somewhat cold. Now, that doesn't mean "Ritz" is a bad book; it isn't at all. It's just a little like reading a book about the natives of some Pacific Island; you close the book after finishing it and say, "oh, that was interesting". And then go on with your day.

The main characters - two former college roommates at an unnamed coed college in Maine - meet up in Boston for a visit. The "unnamed narrator" - who I will refer to as "UN" - has a tangled past with her roommate and the roommate's husband of 30 or so years. They all attended college together in the late 1930's and the husband, like many of his contemporaries went into service in WW2. He came back to a bride and a job in the publishing industry in Boston. They had two sons together, who, by the early 1970's were part of that disaffected generation - my generation - tangling with the societal mores of the time, as well as the ever-present Vietnam War draft. The sons of Gay and Len were a tangential - but important - part of the story because their lives affected those of their parents.

The narrator, Gay, Len, and several others - (including an old lover of the "UN") drink. They drink a lot. That was fairly common in that generation. I grew up in a house with an open bar and parents who hosted a lot of cocktail parties. The drinking in the book begins early in the day in question and actually harkens back to the drinking in the birth families of Gay and the "UN". Gay and Len's relationship problems aren't helped by the free-flowing liquor, which seems to prevent the honest communication these two so badly need.

In the question sheet geared for book clubs in the back of the book, the first question asks if the "unnamed narrator" used hindered or increased the reader's enjoyment of the book. I didn't like it because I felt removed - again with the word "removed" - from the characters' presence. It was as if I was watching "UN" observing the action with a studied eye. She never really seemed to join in the action, and so, neither did I. I've never read anything by Elizabeth Savage, so I don't know if this was a devise she commonly used in her fiction.

I really wish the Amazon rating system would use a Three-Star rating as "neutral"; not good, not bad. Because that's why I'm giving "Ritz" a three star review; I'm glad I read it but I'm not sure I'll remember it a week from now.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and unnerving Sept. 3 2012
By Agnes O'Neil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm a big fan of Nancy Pearl and her Book Lust series. I've never been disappointed by her recommendations. I especially loved another in the Book Lust Rediscoveries series - After Life by Rhian Ellis. But this one took some warming up to. Initially, I thought that was due to the fact that it was written years ago and during the era in which it's placed, I was too young to have the same mindset as the unnamed narrator and her genteel friends, Gay, her husband Len and several other peripheral characters, past and present. But I continued to read because the writing style is so delightfully unusual, you are drawn into the stories -- and indeed, there are many stories and reminiscences -- and the writing is truly unique. There are many disturbing events in the book and shockers abound but the narrator is the type who rolls with the punches and that keeps the reader's attention. This book won't be everyone's cup of tea but it should be experienced because it unnerves you and isn't that the true test of great literature? That you should feel something you've not felt before? The narrator and the author think so, and now I do, too.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Go to the Ritz Nov. 16 2012
By wogan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book was chosen as part of the Book Lust series - books that different NPR commentators select. Nancy Pearl explains the reason for her choice in an excellent introduction. It makes one anxious to read the book; but at many points that does not carry through in reality.

The narrator of the book is never named and the book consists of her reminiscences of life with her friends that she is meeting once again. For a storyline that does contain many memorable phrases and recollections, it can be vague and confusing countless times.

The narrator says she is not sleeping with Wes, when, at that point we really have no real idea of who this person is. The narrator, at another instance states, part way through the story, "I had my own thing too that I wasn't ready to think about." This part of the plot, even at the end is vague and for what has been a narrator who reveals all. It makes no sense that this part of the story is veiled in secrecy, even at the end.
It leaves the reader with an unsatisfying conclusion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Night At The Ritz - A Gem Unearthed By Nancy Pearl Oct. 9 2012
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Last Night at the Ritz (Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries) is a novel that deserves to be read. All great novels are misunderstood in their own time, and some long after that. This book is so unique, and yet it follows in the tradition of great American novels. There are some things that make this book inaccessible, and some things that could be criticized. But none of those things should overshadow what an achievement this is. And if these superlatives seem overly dramatic, let me put an exclamation mark on them: I really enjoyed reading this book. We have Nancy Pearl to thank for bringing this book back into the light.

In many ways, the experience of reading this book reminded me very much of The Sun Also Rises. We follow a group of old friends whose lunch reunion at the Boston Ritz turns into a marathon as they go from drinks to dinner and beyond. At moments, Edward Albee's classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? comes to mind. No, alcohol does not always bring out the best in people.

The narrator is unnamed, but that is not without precedent in literature. Many of the most pleasurable moments of reading this book come from the narrator's acerbic wit. Her observations are sometimes cringe worthy, sometimes wise but almost always amusing. She is like a self-effacing female version of Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray. As a consequence, this book is filled with tons of quotable lines.

Towards the end, the story does change speeds. It becomes much more melancholy. Yet the thought occurs to me that this mirrors exactly the experience the group is having. They begin their journey happy and drunk, and they must face the music as they come down off their high. I can't say the last few chapters are as enjoyable as the bulk of the book, but I think they are integral to the story the author is trying to tell.

There are a few surprise plot points that come up at the end, but if you blink you will miss them. The author is so subtle in the way she hints at things, I still wonder at my own perception of what the narrator is really implying. But I won't delve into any potential spoilers here. Suffice it to say that while the highs are amusing, the lows are very low.

CONCLUSION

Nothing is perfect. But I really can't compare this reading experience to any I've had since I read Invisible Man for the first time. Each book has its own unique life, and I am not implying that this book is the same as the books I have compared it to. But this book is in the class of those books in the way it can make the reader think about people and life. I am sad that this book will not be appreciated by all. But this will be an enjoyable and gratifying read for those who do find this to be their cup of tea. I recommend it.
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