Looking Back Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook
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In her novel Looking Back, New York Times bestselling author Belva Plain poses the question, Can friendships forged during the idyllic years of college stand the test of time--and betrayal? Recent college graduates and former roommates, classy Cecile, brainy Norma, and ambitious Amanda find their lives intimately entwined when Amanda marries Norma's older brother, Larry, to escape the unrelenting poverty of her family and the total lack of opportunities in the small southern town where she grew up. But their lives will never be the same once Amanda begins a passionate affair with her father-in-law, the cold and commanding L.B. No one escapes unscathed after Amanda confesses all, including the identity of her son's father, at a party, and Norma attempts to boost her heartbroken brother's career at the expense of Cecile's architect husband. This is Belva Plain at her twisted best, providing a bird's-eye view of the sometimes murky lives of ordinary people. If you're looking for a happy ending tied up in a pretty bow, rather than the drama that average lives occasionally take on, Looking Back and Belva Plain in general may not be for you. Loyal fans, however, will thrill to wallow once again in a world only Plain could create. --Alison Trinkle --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
What begins as an engaging story about three college roommates brainy Norma, lovely Amanda, preppy Cecile and their differing futures takes a bewildering turn in Plain's latest domestic saga. When the three women graduate, Amanda, desperate to escape her lower-class background, marries Larry Balsan, Norma's brother, who is in the family real estate business. As Mrs. Balsan, she can shop to her heart's content, but she soon realizes she is not as happy as Cecile, who marries her college sweetheart, or even Norma, who is biding her time until she meets Mr. Right. So far so good, but the plot is thrown off kilter when Amanda and her aloof, widower father-in-law inexplicably tumble into an affair. The awkwardness of such a union bleeds into the prose, and Plain is unable to make the twist work there is no satisfying tension or electricity between Amanda and L.B., as he is known, so their passionate affair rings false. Plain (Fortune's Hand, etc.) compounds the problems with her plot by turning the steadfast Norma into a conniving schemer who, out of misguided loyalty to her brother, undermines Cecile's husband. The flowing story line, neatly resolved problems and intriguing exploration of family relationships that readers have come to expect from Plain are absent here.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, Looking Back, was a rather dreary and almost predictable read which had me had me thinking same old, same old. And while I realize that themes are often repeated these days, this one wasn't well developed or the characters either memorable or even interesting. Like many of Plain's more recent books with present day themes of rape, incest, child abuse, sibling rivalry and embezzlement, Plains newest title further explores family life at its worst and fits right in with other titles such as The Carousel, After the Fire and Secrecy.
Looking Back begins on a college campus where three good friends are about to graduate and proceed with their lives. In time they will all marry, some for better, some for worse. But then jealousies arise between the three friends, two of whom who are sisters in law and one woman goes so far as to have an affair. The climax and end of the book, while fairly predictable is also rather ridiculous but by then I was looking forward to selecting my next read. I doubt it would have even bothered me if I hadn't bothered to finish this title.
I think I continue to read Belva Plain's books hoping for another one as good as Evergreen or other titles in that series. It hasn't happened recently except for Legacy of Silence published a few years ago. So I offer a bit of advice for those not familiar with Ms. Plain's books.Read more ›
There were unanswered questions left in my mind regarding the various situations presented in the book. Leaving some of the characters hanging in the text doesn't suit my wants in ending an otherwise great story.
What is friendship, anyway? Belva Plain explores the friendship, which started in college, of three young women and continues into their adulthood. Differences in backgrounds provide interesting exchanges in regard to how each friend deals with similar situations. The friendship continues after college, however, as time passes each becomes more interested in things relevant to themselves. This friendship eventually reaches a point of change, rather than one of growth.
Like most of Belva Plain's other books, "Looking Back" is a book I didn't want to put down once I started reading. Some of the events in the story were anticipated, and then I had to struggle with potential outcomes. For example, even though I kept hoping a particular circumstance would or would not happen, the author generated enough uncertainty to keep me from knowing whether it would occur or not.
In spite of the ending, I liked the book. Whether you are a Belva Plain follower, or not, you will want to read "Looking Back".
Amanda was a true heroine. She loved until it hurt, then pieced her big broken heart together to start a new life without the son she loved. She out grew her hometown in Mississippi and was strong-armed into life in Michigan via marriage with the successful but boring Larry who happened to be Norma's brother. Norma thought with her beauty and Larry's love that Amanda was lucky and should want for nothing else. Amanda and Norma both wanted real love and fulfilling careers like Cecile and her husband Peter. Larry wanted the beautiful trophy wife and kids like his friends. Fearful of disappointing his father LB, he didn't use his own potential. This is why he misunderstood Amanda's need to reach her own.
LB saw Amanda for who she really was and confronted her when he could no longer put his "head over heart". They shared an intense love. In fact, their first time was so good she passed out! Unfortunately LB encouraged his son's wife to live a double life and even pass off his baby as Larry's. Too bad he was only strong on the surface. He was correct in telling Amanda she was the strong one. After the truth came out about them, he suffered the fatal stroke while she endured everyone's scrutiny.
The real shocker was Norma. The loyalty and devotion she had for her brother was blinding.Read more ›
Speaking of shallow, that is a perfect word to describe most of the characters in this story. With the exception of Cecile and her husband, Peter, the characters can be grouped into one of two categories: ridiculous or spiteful...I do not know which was less appealing. Yet, the reader must endure their inane comments and thoughts. In general, the characters are neither likable nor interesting and you are left not necessarily caring about what happens to them.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was excellent. It touched on some very sad issues. But some of these things may very well hurt close friends and family. Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Lorraine Brown
The story is kind of original, the ending is not a happy ending, therefore , we could say that it is kind of original for a novel. Read morePublished on July 2 2004
I was skeptical when I started this that I would like it at all, I figured it wouldn't be as engaging, however I wound up being drawn into the story and ended up loving it a lot! Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by Camille Davenport
This is a great book with a great story line but it is a bit depressing. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.Published on Aug. 24 2002
A definate page turner, I did not guess the ending correctly at all! The author skillfully weaves the stories of these three friends and thier marriages. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2002
The author must be using a ghost writer these days. The book was not anywhere near the quality of past books. Characters were shallow and scenes were redundant. Read morePublished on July 17 2002 by Alison R. Lee
I personally thought that the book was great once I got past the first couple of chapters. I was able to see the events in my mind as Belva Plain described the scenes behind the... Read morePublished on July 7 2002 by J. Kirkman
hated the end. The final 50 pages or so were just awful in my opinion. I was following the story, although I didn't really strongly like or identify with any individual... Read morePublished on June 26 2002
What can I say? Never read a book of hers, picked it up
as a book on tape at the library, and found it to be rather
entertaining, though it's a moralizing, sermonizing,... Read more