Brooklyn Bugle Book Club: Mary Gordon, “The Love of My Youth”

July 21, 2011

I am generally a fan of Mary Gordon’s fiction, and her new novel “The Love of My Youth,” set in Rome, should have been enchanting. In it, Adam and Miranda, lovers in high school and college, meet again in Rome many years later. They walk and talk and surmise things about each other. The descriptions of Rome are tender and accurate; I particularly loved the description of the market in the Campo dei Fiori. And the descriptions of walking in the Borghese Gardens, as well as the delicious description of Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne in the Borghese Gallery. But the novel left me unsatisfied . . . and it took me a while to figure out why. I couldn’t quite believe in the characters, who we mostly see through their conversations, and I didn’t find their behavior compelling. The conflict between them had been resolved long ago, and their meeting up again after nearly 40 years did not revive it. Nina  Sankovitchwitz, of, thinks the last third of the novel, where the resolution is described, is worth the wait. I found it to be something of a letdown. I thought the story of their college classmate Valerie, who lives in Rome and is the mechanism by which Adam and Miranda reconnect, might have made a more interesting novel – she clearly made some interesting compromises. In their somewhat insensitive way, Adam and Miranda gloss over them. What did you think? Discuss in the comments.

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