The Last September; Nina de Gramont
Algonquin - 2015
"Because I'm a student of literature, I will start my story on the day Charlie died. In other words, I'm beginning in the middle, In medias res, that's the Latin term, and though my specialty is American Renaissance poetry, I did have to study the classics, Homer, Dante, Milton. They knew about the middle, how all of life revolves around a single moment in time. Everything that comes afterward springs from that moment. In my case, that moment -- that middle -- is my husband's murder."
In The Last September the reader learns immediately that Charlie Moss has been murdered, but who did it and why? Although we find out in the end, the story itself is no ordinary murder mystery -- it is so much more.
Brett Mercier meets Charlie Moss in college in Colorado through his brother, Eli who was Brett's friend. Eli warned her that his brother might break her heart as he was a bit of a dreamer and liked to play the field, but for Brett it was love at first sight. After and intense start to the relationship, Charlie disappears, but eventually the two reconnect, marry and have a daughter together. Life for Brett is not what she imagined. With a passion for Emily Dickinson, she works on her dissertation. The couple barely has enough money for necessities and they live in a run-down Cape Cod beach cottage belonging to Charlie's dad. Charlie does not have the same passion as Brett or career drive.
Eli, once bound for Harvard, was diagnosed with schizophrenia during college, and has been institutionalized off and off, and he bounces in and out of their lives as a result. On the day Charlie's bludgeoned body is found, Eli is at the beach cottage, he's hysterical and has stopped taking his meds.
The story delves deep into the backgrounds of the characters, who are richly developed and deeply flawed. Some felt like people I knew at an earlier time in my life. A literary mystery of sorts, the story offers beautiful references and quotes of Emily Dickinson, the breathtaking setting of Cape Cad in fall, the college town of Amherst, Ma, and the home of Emily Dickinson.
It's a story that hooked me early on and never let go. The Last September is a beautifully written story of life, love, family, conflict and betrayal. This one is definitely worth reading.