Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"The Love of My Youth" by Mary Gordon

"The Love of My Youth" is the kind of novel I refer to as a guilty pleasure.   It's not the greatest literature, but it has an addictive quality that pulls you along.  Perhaps the main reason I couldn't put it down is the depiction of the late 'sixties, its university life, the Viet Nam war, travel in Europe, and a youth that coincided with my own.  The novel is told from the vantage point of today, with the two teenage lovers finding themselves together again in Rome after 36 years.  Each has married and had a family.  Each is happy and settled into the life that could have been predicted for them years before.  They agree to meet everyday for the two weeks they'll both be in Rome, see the sights together, drink some wine, eat some pasta, and remember the good old days before he "betrayed" her by getting another girl pregnant during a one-night stand.  My guess is there are legions of sixty-somethings out there who will be able to identify with substantial parts of this story. 

I don't find the structure or the dialogue entirely convincing.  Do people really talk like that?  But there is enough withheld to make you want to read on, and Rome is always interesting.  It's summer now, and this would be a great beach read, which is not to denigrate it.  Let's just say that if it were a meal, it would be a simple pasta dish rather than a gourmet feast.