It is a love story, it is a story of the reflection of life as one looks back in their twilight years, and it is beautifully written.
The book opens with the first day at the New England Derry School for Boys, the school where Peter and Ruth have spent most of their adult lives, the place where Peter started as an enthusiastic teacher, with Ruth as the dutiful wife and where now, as the couple is in their eighties, and Peter approaching the need to retire as headmaster, is the place they must learn to live without. As Ruth drags the vacuum cleaner out to get ready for the annual first night get together at their home with the faculty, memories slowly emerge. And that is how we learn of the love story of Peter and Ruth. Through Ruth's eyes, the story of their lives unfold in perfect harmony with the present tense to let us experience their love, their passion, their struggles and commitment over the decades. It's also the story of Ruth, how she accepts her life, the role she chose for herself, and the life that she had no choice over.
The book itself is in two parts. The first part is Peter and Ruth on that "last first day" at Derry School, with the smattering of memories of their lives. The second part starts Ruth's story from the beginning- from when she was twelve, living out of a suitcase with her father, and her first sighting of Peter. We learn so much about Ruth in part two and understand her so much better. The love story, of Peter and Ruth, which really emerges from its' humble beginnings in the second part of the novel, is sweet & wonderful, sad & devastating, and ultimately blossoms into a full shared life together.
"What had Peter seen in her all this time?I read this book in a day and a half... This is a story that will linger with me for quite some time. I loved the way Carrie Brown made this complex story flow so easily from the page, slowly unfurling & perfectly putting the words down on the page. It is honest, it is heartfelt, I thought it was wonderful... and I did cry at the end.
It was a mystery, wasn't it, why people loved one another?"
I want to thank Pantheon Books, a division of Random House for sending along The Last First Day by Carrie Brown for me review! Published in mid-September, The Last First Day is available in Hardcover , Kindle and Nook. If you enjoy good stories, stories where the characters reflect back on their lives, or love stories, you will enjoy this book. It is a slow paced, wonderful story. Find yourself a comfy chair and read this book!