4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 narrator's 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.