Anita Shreve, I have a question for you. Are you any kin to Nicolas Sparks? You have to be the female version of him as this book, Where Or When, shows the same draw them in, make them fall in love with the characters, get them to pulling for them, only to do the EXACT opposite at the end! OH, COME ON! This is the second book of her's I have read and while I have enjoyed both, I have also hated both. The characters are so believable, so full of life. And in this instance, the subject hit so close to home. Not sure where she gets her inspirations from but I hope her true-to-life experiences are not being mirrored in her books.
Basically, the book is about two people, and two families. Charles and Sian met when they were 14 years old and at camp for a week. In this brief period of time, they developed a love that would last for a lifetime. And yes, I believe in love for a lifetime. Fast forward 31 years to the present. Charles is married with children and so is Siam....just not to each other. In a freak chance, Charles sees a photo and review of Sian's book in the newspaper and remembers the past and the emotions he still has even after all the years that have passed. Making a decision that will possibly change the lives of two families, he contacts her, only to find that she still feels the same emotions. From there, I leave it for you to imagine.......until you read the book. A great book in the same spirit of many of Nicolas Spark's books, this one will leave you emotionally drained at the end with all the ups, and downs. I read this one in a day!
The lyrics of the song from whence the title of the book came......
Where Or When
Music by Richard Rodgers
Words by Lorenz Hart
When you're awake
The things you think come from the dreams you dream.
Thought has wings,
And lots of things are seldom what they seem.
Sometimes you think you've lived before
All that you live today.
Things you do come back to you,
As though they knew the way.
Oh, the tricks your mind can play
It seems we stood and
Talked like this before
We looked at each other
In the same way then but
I can't remember where or when
The clothes you're wearing
Are the clothes you wore
The smile you are smiling
You were smiling then but
I can't remember where or when
Some things that
Happen for the first time
Seems to be happening again
And so it seems that
We have met before
And laughed before
And loved before but
Who knows where or when
This book is very well written, as are all Anita Shreve books I have read. But, I just could not sympathize with the selfish characters in this book! They gave little heed to the damage their affair was doing to everyone around them. Maybe it's because I love my husband dearly and could not imagine hurting him so much.
I've enjoyed some Anita Shreve novels in the past but this one was a huge disappointment. Too "romancey" and gratuitous sexual situations, along with an unbelievable story, made it a waste of valuable reading time for me.
I am a fan of Anita Shreve and have read other books by her but this one I didn't like. It's about a boy and a girl that first met when they were 14 years old at Summer Camp. They fell in love and had a sexual encounter. Thirty one years later when they are both married with children adults (not to each other) they meet again when the man sees a photo of the woman on the back of a book of poetry that she wrote. He writes a letter to her and eventually they meet and have an affair. The book flashes back and forth between when they were teenagers and now being adults, comparisons are made. It wasn't a believable story to me, it's complete fantasy.
This is a story of true love from the past, zinging its way into present lives. The characters are sympathetic and the author makes the reader feel the tension and emotions of all involved. Hated the ending!
This author takes you on a journey with these people and lets you feel everything they feel. It is a well written page turner. It lets you revisit the what if you have floating around in your own mind. Real people, real situations.
Who hasn't dreamed about reuniting with one's first love? This is a seductive read. What would you do if, out of the blue, you received a leter from your first love? Sian Richards sees no reason why she can't write back to Charles Callahan. After all, it's been thirty years and they are both married with families. But when they decide to meet again, an innocent correspondence becomes a dangerous intimacy. Swept up in the past and consumed by an obsessive love, Charles and Sian risk everything to be together.
Charles first saw Siân at summer camp thirty-one years ago, and he fell in love. He never really lost memory or longing of her, even though they never saw each other again after those few fateful, scorching weeks they spent together; so when he comes across her photograph serendipitously while flicking through a literary magazine, his world begins to spin in a new direction. He needs to see her. Forget the wife, forget the kidshe needs Sîan. His sinking business and financial security set the tone of this gloomy, cryptic novel; little does he know that they will mark his failure, as well as his downfall.
I couldn't really get into this one because I couldn't connect with the characters. Each of them are most intimately portrayed by Shreve's dense, flowery prose, but they still seem too detached, too cold. The power of first loveand in that, the illusion of romanticized childhoodis expertly detailed upon, but emotionally, personally... Charles and Sîan are a let-down.
I have mixed feelings about the writing style; on one hand, it's gorgeously crafted, but on the other, it's kind of rambly, descriptive in unnecessary places and too vague in others. There's a quaint perceptiveness in Shreve's penmanship that's both distant and generic; I liked this, but it hinders the story's progress, so overall Where or When was sort of difficult to read.
The blithe bay setting, with brief flashes of Rhode Island and of east coast beaches, is nice. Nothing powerful, but definitely appropriate for the content and style: hazy, breezy, and static.
Ah, but the endingwhat in the world?? Unfulfilling, miserable, wretched thing! I like the take on the tragic ending, but the way the author decided to terminate the connection between the two lovers, not so much. I feel like there was a better path she could have taken, so the ending was what finally ruined the story for me.
The affliction over an impossible love permeates throughout this bookfrom the first page, to the last. Even in the title, is a direct allusion: it's where or when, but never and, never both, which signifies how the self-serving motives and foolishly insatiable desires of the human heart will eventually lead to catastrophe.
Pros: Intimacy between characters, and between characters and readers // Lush prose // Breezy east coast backdrop // Interesting storyline about childhood lovers
Cons: Unmoving // Terrible ending // Style is syrupy; hard to read // Just didn't affect me in any which way
Verdict: Where or When is a futile account of a mistaken love that consumes two very unhappy individuals. I say futile because there is nothing about it that's touching or engaging; it's just a flat story with flat characters, and I put it down having gained very little. It does however, contain Anita Shreve's exquisite prose, and well-interprets the tragedy of time, of timing. This wasn't a completely deplorable read, but I don't care for it much, and wouldn't recommend it.
5 out of 10 hearts (3 stars): Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by TripFiction in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
From Publishers Weekly
The author of the well-received Eden Close and Strange Fits of Passion exhibits an enhanced mastery of her craft in this potent tale of middle-aged passion. An affecting novel that will probably attract readers of The Bridges of Madison County , it offers the further rewards of psychologically nuanced characterizations and a thoughtful exploration of the relationship between sexuality and time. When 44-year-old real estate insurance salesman Charles Callahan sees a photograph of poet Sian Richards, he recognizes her as the young woman he met three decades earlier at a Catholic camp for teenagers. Impulsively, he writes Sian, and sets in motion the love affair they were destined to have. Though both are married and have children, each is unfulfilled, craving true partnership. Parallels between their lives are evident but not forced: Charles's Rhode Island fishing community is suffering badly from the recession, and he is about to lose his office building and his home; Sian's husband cannot scratch a living from their Pennsylvania onion farm. Charles attended a seminary for two years; Sian considered taking orders. Significantly, though each has fallen away from the Church, they still think and speak in religious imagery: Charles calls himself "an insurer of life, a kind of secular priest," and such terms as venial sins, sacrilege, epiphany, state of grace, guilt and absolution come naturally to both of them. Shreve makes the vortex of their obsession entirely believable, controlling the narrative with authority and restraint. The haunting song of the title provides a leitmotif for a lyrical and increasingly suspenseful narrative told in clear and evocative prose. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Sian Richards and Charles Callahan met 31 years ago at camp and had a summer romance. Charles sees Sian's picture in a newspaper advertising her new book. He is in a loveless marriage and is facing the failure of his business. Charles writes to Sian and discovers that she is in a similar situation. They decide to meet and-despite grave misgivings-soon have an affair. Predictably, the affair brings destruction instead of happiness to our lovers. The first half of this book...features the pair's correspondence. However, the narrative becomes confusing shortly after the two meet: the reader must keep track of numerous conversations, letters, and remembrances about camp. Recommended wherever Shreve is popular.
Danna C. Bell-Russel, Dist. of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I loved this book. It's in great condition and I almost don't want to part with it, but I can't hold onto all of them... Anyway, it's one of those books that grabs you and the characters seem so REAL, the plot so intriguing, that you may lose sleep until you've finished it, but you'll be glad you did.
This was a very quick, and good, read! The story revolves around first loves who get to reunite with one another later in life. It's romantic and has some twists in the story. If you like Anita Shreve's other titles, you've got to read "Where or When". It also got rave reviews from The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal.
"Who hasn't dreamed about reuniting with one's first love? Where or When indulges the fantasy, then sets it afire...This is a seductive read." -Vogue
First love and the dangers of it after you both have married someone else. It has been thirty years since they were first loves, what will it hurt to see each other and catch up on the years?Lots of suspense as well as reminicent love.
I didn't love this book, but I didn't dislike it either. It had its moments, but it also had some areas that did not peak my interest. The story of a businessman, bored with his day-to-day life who on a whim decides to write a note to his first love. After much correspondence between the two, they decide to meet up...and neither of them could have imagined the whirlwind they were in for. Much of this book is predictable, although there are a few twists and turns that throw you for a loop. Not Shreve's best book, but I think it's worth the read.
Charles Callahan is reading the Sunday paper when an alluring and oddly familiar photo catches his eye: it is Sian Richards, his first love, a face he has not seen for more than three decades. He is entranced by her image, flooded by memories of their teenage summer together, and utterly conpelled to make contact with her again. Charles sends Sian a letter, knowing all the while that "from the very first sentence of the very first note there was nothing innocent about it." Sian writes back - she is now a poet living with her husband and small child on an onion farm in Pennsylvania. She is intrigued that Charles has sought her out after so many years but wary of where their correspondence might lead. For Charles, troubled by financial woes, on the verge of losing his home, and concerned about the security of his family, the letters become a secret obsession and another source of instability in his already complicated life. Despite their reservations, the power of Charles and Sian's attraction leads them to meet again . . . and again. As Charles understands it, "for the two of them, eros is linked with time. It is the very urgency of time he dreads, the sense that their minutes together are short and numbered, that he must say what he has come to say before she leaves, that gestures and words cannot be wasted." Anita Shreve takes the classic theme of Romeo and Juliet and gives it an unusual twist: two lovers struggle against formidable odds, reaching across a lifetime to reclaim what they once lost. In doing so, they set in motion a tumultuous series of events that moves inexorably to a shocking conclusion.
Anita Shreve writes excellent character who are human, with all their mistakes and hurts and loves. In this case, a boy and girl meet at camp and fall in love. Thirty years later, the boy (now a middle-aged man) sees a photo and article of the girl from camp and dares to write to her. At the expense of both of their families, what follows is a passionate love, but ultimately, they pay the price.
When 44-year-old real estate insurance salesman Charles Callahan sees a photograph of poet Sian Richards, he recognizes her as the young woman he met three decades earlier at a Catholic camp for teenagers. Impulsively, he writes Sian, and sets in motion the love affair they were destined to have. Though both are married and have children, each is unfulfilled, craving true partnership. Parallels between their lives are evident but not forced: Charles's Rhode Island fishing community is suffering badly from the recession, and he is about to lose his office building and his home; Sian's husband cannot scratch a living from their Pennsylvania onion farm. Charles attended a seminary for two years; Sian considered taking orders. Significantly, though each has fallen away from the Church, they still think and speak in religious imagery: Charles calls himself "an insurer of life, a kind of secular priest," and such terms as venial sins, sacrilege, epiphany, state of grace, guilt and absolution come naturally to both of them. Shreve makes the vortex of their obsession entirely believable, controlling the narrative with authority and restraint. The haunting song of the title provides a leitmotif for a lyrical and increasingly suspenseful narrative told in clear and evocative prose.
When Sian receives a love letter from an old flame, she is extremely flattered. However, what starts out as a friendly meeting to reacquaint themselves with each other soon descends into a fiery, volatile affair that rockets into a dark and dangerous obsession. I loved this book and give it an A+!
What would you do if you received a letter from your first love? Sian Richards sees no reason why she can't write back to Charles Callahan. After all, its been 30 years and they are both married with families. But when they decide to meet again, an innocent correspondence becomes a dangerous intimacy. Swept up in the past & consumed by an obsessive love, Charles & Sian risk everything to be together.
An excellent story with a nicely contrived mix of letter exchanges between characters plus a present/past continuum that is easy to follow and adds depth to the novel. It will shake your emotional soul.