Guest post by NPR
book commentator, Nancy Pearl. Nancy is the editor the Book
Lust series of recommended reading and the curator of the Book
Lust Rediscoveries serieswhich brings
forgotten classic novels back into print.
daughter Katie is an amazing person. She’s immensely creative, kind, generous,
thoughtful, and loving. But what I most
admire about her is her talent for making and keeping friends. Friends from high school, old boyfriends, old
girlfriends, strangers she meets on her travels who turn into friends for life.
I’ve been thinking about the nature of
friendship a lot since I reread Elizabeth Savage’s The Last Night at the Ritz in preparation for its republication
(after many years of being out of print) as the fourth book in the Book
Lust Rediscoveries series. First of
all, the novel itself is a friend-maker: for years I’ve felt that if I ever met
someone who loved The Last Night at the
Ritz as much as I did, that person and I would surely become good friends. And
I’m not the only one who feels that way. Faith Sullivan, a writer whose novels
I’ve long admired, sent this to me in an email after she read it : “This is a
deal-breaker novel: If you don't like it, we can't be friends. Warm, chatty,
insightful, funny, heartbreaking, 'The Last Night at the Ritz' is an
overflowing basket of dry martinis, good books, frailty, filet mignon, pain,
escargot, and the kind of friendship/love everyone is born seeking."
one of the things I most love about The Last Night at the Ritz is the author’s portrayal of the longtime, close,
and enduring relationship that the unnamed narrator has with her best friend,
Gay. It’s a friendship that began when they met as roommates their freshman
year at college and now, well more than a quarter of a century later, still
continues, as strong as ever, having withstood distance, secrets, time, and
betrayals. Tolerance, disapproval, forgiveness, and understanding are all woven
into the close connection between these two characters; indeed, without those
the friendship most likely couldn’t have lasted.
sometimes wonder whether those longstanding friendships exist only in novels,
but I really don’t think so, despite the fact that I haven’t been lucky enough
to have that sort of friend myself. I intend no offense to my husband of many
many many many many years, but, as I think the long married out there will
agree, spouses are in an entirely different category.