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The First Warm Evening of the Year    by Jamie Saul Amazon.com order for
First Warm Evening of the Year
by Jamie Saul
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William Morrow, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In this novel about past, present and future relationships, Jamie Saul explores how friends and siblings as well as husbands and wives fit together in some rather unexpected ways.

Geoffrey Tremont is a rather complacent New Yorker who is taking what comes along when it comes to relationships, but has little desire to turn his casual encounters into anything long lasting. Commitment isn't a word that easily rolls off Geoffrey's tongue and he seems to be quite happy just coasting along the surface.

That all changes, though, when Geoffrey is asked to be the executor of the estate of Laura Welles, a college friend he hasn't spoken to in over two decades. Reluctantly, Geoffrey leaves the city for the small, upstate New York town where Laura spent her final days.

It is here that he encounters one of Laura's closest friends, Marian Ballantine. As Geoffrey tells a friend, he is smitten by the widow who operates a landscaping business.

'I've met someone under the most unusual circumstances, and I can't get her out of my mind,' he says.

Trying to explain the effect she has had on him, Geoffrey continues, 'When I was younger I was happy to be happy. When I got older, I was content to be content. But all of that changed when I was with Marian. Being content just isn't satisfying anymore. It's what I've been feeling for you know, stagnating, stuck in the horse latitudes? That feeling's been percolating for a while now, but I like thinking Marian's made me realize that I want to go back there and be with her again.'

A widow who isn't that interested in Geoffrey, Marian has to come to terms with the loss of her first husband before she can embark on another serious relationship. Her life is also a bit complicated by a good friend whom she has relied on since her husband died and whom many people expect her to eventually marry.

Over the course of the story the key characters must resolve the past issues that have allowed their lives to stagnate before they can move ahead and develop any type of satisfying and meaningful relationship.

A compelling narrative that slowly pulls the reader into its center just as the characters are drawn to one another, The First Warm Evening of the Year is a satisfying read which illustrates that compelling relationships can begin and develop in some very unusual ways.

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