The Last First Day
The Last First Day is a love story. Not a story about new love, or falling in love, but about what love looks like over a lifetime.
Ruth and Peter are in their 80s. Peter has spent decades as the headmaster at the Derry School for boys. Ruth has never had her own career but was proud to be the headmaster’s wife- offering hospitality to the faculty, comfort to sick students, and generally mothering the boys. Now, Ruth is looking to the future with apprehension and the past with regret. The one thing she is sure of is the love she and Peter have built over the years.
Then, the book does flash back to Ruth and Peter when they first met. Their history sheds more light on their choices and regrets. It also makes helps explain why their love has been so lasting.
The love story of this book is beautiful. Our culture mostly focuses on falling in love, and not what it takes to stay in love- or what love looks like when its old and grey. For that alone, I would recommend this book.
In addition, the writing in this book is FANTASTIC. Brown uses very vivid descriptions that make scenes leap off the page. She uses words judiciously- a single detail tells a whole scene. I would read this book again (and I’m sure I will) for the writing alone.
Walk into any bookstore and love stories are a dime a dozen. But a book like this is a rare and pleasing find. No question its making the list of my Top 10 novels this year.
You might like: The Notebook, N. Sparks. Water For Elephants, S. Gruen. Three Stages of Amazement, C. Edgarian.