Title: The Love of My Youth
Author: Mary Gordon
Publication Year: 2011 (April)
Publisher: Random House
Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 3/21/2011
Setting: Rome (mostly)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Have you ever wondered about that old flame you had in high school or college? The person, who at least at that time, you imagined you'd build a life with. We all know that sometimes, even the best plans don't turn out the way we hoped. Such was the case for Miranda and Adam, first loves from high school.
In The Love of My Youth, Miranda and Adam experienced the highs of first love which continued throughout college. Adam was a gifted musician (pianist) and Miranda committed to political activism and social awareness. After college, their passion and optimism took the couple to Rome where they set up housekeeping briefly, but soon after, their relationship ended on a bad note, on June 23, 1971. Each of them eventually moved on, and they married other people, raised families, and had careers.
Now, some (36) years later, October 7, 2007, Miranda and Adam, have the opportunity to meet once again in Rome. Both are there for different reasons, and they are invited by an old college friend to dinner. Uncomfortable about the situation, yet curious as well, they accept the dinner invitation, and for the next (24) days the Miranda and Adam spend time together each day. They meet for daily walks, talks, lunches, visit gardens, museums and other sites where the couple had been decades before. Each day more a bit more is revealed about their lives, and each of them reflects privately on their past relationship, and about each other. On day number (3) of their time together, Miranda and Adam reflect about the time spent together,
"The day before had been a disappointment to the both of them; each had found the other wanting; both telephoned their spouses, flush with the pleasure of being able to speak critically, yet truthfully: to make the point that really, there was no danger. 'I'd forgotten what a pedant he could be,' she told her husband. 'What did we do in the days before we could invoke the term 'politically correct'? he asked his wife."Throughout the next (21) days, each time they meet the explore their past together, their past apart, and they examine what it all means. It is through this examination of their past, their dreams and disappointments, where they've been and who they've become, that each is able to find peace.
Although the majority of this novel is about Miranda and Adam in October of 2007, there are a few flashbacks to their time together in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that enable the reader to see the differences in background and ideologies, that young lovers might well gloss over.
I really enjoyed this novel, and thought the author did an amazing job developing the characters, and of creating a memorable story. This is one novel that should especially appeal to the baby boomer generation.