Forty-something Geoffrey Tremont thought he was settled in his life in New York City - he has many friends, a successful career doing voice-over spots and a relationship with a woman who offers him companionship. But when Tremont is notified that he has been named the executor of a will for an old college friend, Laura Wells, whom he hasn't seen in twenty years, and he sets off to reconcile her estate in Shady Grove, a small town in upstate New York in the Berkshire Mountains, his life is suddenly upended. He falls, love at first sight, for Marian Ballantine, a dear friend of the departed, a woman living in a perpetual state of mourning since her husband's death and stuck in a repressed relationship of her own.
The inherent risks--and joys--of love and loving are the cornerstones of The First Warm Evening of the Year by Jamie M. Saul (Light of Day). This is a psychologically astute and emotionally evocative novel about death (literal and figurative), the nature of grief, passion, self-knowledge and the complexities of love. Laura's passing assembles a cast of deeply drawn supporting characters forced to examine their own intimate associations - or lack thereof. Sometimes people settle and use substitutes for cultivating more substantial relationships in their lives. But as one character remarks when considering the risks of love despite the consequences of heartbreak, "What's the point of having a heart, if you're not going to use it?" Those in this absorbing, beautifully written novel ultimately discover that sometimes love is not a choice, but rather a matter of having no choice.
The First Warm Evening of the Year by Jamie M. Saul
William Morrow, $24.99, Hardcover, 9780061449727, 304 pp
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (4/27/12), click HERE.