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Evenings at Five Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Godwin, Gail
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345461029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402563836
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebrated novelist Godwin (Father Melancholy's Daughter) lost her companion of nearly 30 years, the composer Robert Starer, two years ago, and this book is a devoted, quirky, wry and surprisingly powerful fictionalization of aspects of their life together as working artists. It takes its text, as Godwin might like to say (her last novel was, after all, Evensong) from the cocktail hour the pair observed, well, religiously, at the end of their working day, exchanging their jokes, their thoughts, their sense of themselves and their friends and neighbors. It swiftly and seamlessly moves into husband Rudy's long illness, nobly borne, and wife Christina's profound sense of loss after his death, tempered frequently by flashes of hilarity and sweet sense. The book has an elusive tone, somber but never mawkish, with a delight in words and the ways people use and abuse them that is typical of this urbane author. For a book that can be read in an hour, it is remarkably dense, and can only whet the appetite for the new novel Godwin is said to be working on. The drawings that accompany the text, as illustrations of some of Rudy and Christina's household artifacts, are clean-lined but repetitious.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Now that her composer husband is dead, Christina dreads "evenings at five"-the hour that the couple set aside for heart-to-hearts.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Unfinished Desires, A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961--1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on January 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It doesn't take readers of Evenings at Five too long before they realize that this book was written as an homage and in memory of the author's recently deceased partner. Gail Godwin in her secretly veiled memoir has crafted a fine novel about love, compassion, loss and the human spirit to move on.
The title of the book Evenings at Five refers to that time of day when Christina, an author and Rudy a composer would meet for drinks. Cocktails for this twosome are a ritual each evening at five, they even have special names for the knives they use to cut the lemons and limes. This special hour at their home includes lively conversations about how that spent their days on their individual projects, their plans for trips and their futures together. They never anticipated Rudy's premature death and now Christina spends her evenings at five thinking about her time spent with Rudy and her future alone.
While this book is poignant and very sad at times, the reader finishes the last pages content that Christina as well as Gail Godwin has had a fulfilling relationship and an amazing love. And because of this she will be able to move on, perhaps a bit sadder,but complete in the knowledge of what they have had. And as the author intended it is a fitting book to be written by an excellent author about the man she dearly loved who did die two years ago.
I do recommend this book to those who love,to those who have loved and those who hope to love. As the saying goes,"'Tis better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all." Evening at Five certainly proves this adage to be true.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Because life is rarely without loss and grief, this slim novel may have wide appeal. However, this reader feels that the persons most attracted to and affected by "Evenings at Five" would have to be spouses for whom grief is still new, raw and ever present.
It is amazing how so few words can so richly convey Christina's aching feelings. The simplicity of the book lies in the scarcity of words and the simple and stark pen drawings of the very articles that serve as constant reminders and reinforce the piercing emptiness and grief. A favorite tumbler; a metronome that is an integral tool to Rudy's composing skills; a richly-grained wooden chair with a beautiful, tapestried pillow; an answering machine with Rudy's voice that Christina cannot bring herself to erase.
The chair keeps cropping up because Rudy, as his disease progressed, required sitting in an upright position and was probably all the more visible because of his forced confinement. Drawings, too, of the living room and descriptions of how they sat in proximity to one another, emphasize their closeness. They were woven together as a couple, as best friends, as collaborators in the co-creation of their home and individual work spaces...she an author...he a composer.
Christina chronicles her pain without being mawkish. No matter where she turns, the memories are present and what makes the agony still worse is that on the night of Rudy's death, she had unsuspectingly left to return home and was reading as Rudy was dying. Sadly, she recalls that she will never be able to read that author again. No matter how many moments were spent together, from their grand passion when they first met, to the quieter times, the intimacy that grew over the years, there was never enough because it's now all gone...forever!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Heart-breaking yet comforting -- exquisitely written, perfectly structured, emotionally precise. The illustrations poignantly echo the writing. I am buying extra copies for friends and family.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kate E. Mougey on April 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A good little book that is well-written and beautifully crafted into a story with resonance for anyone who has lost a love to death. Provides a peak into a woman's day-to-day grief and into a life lived well together by two people. Sometimes sad, always poignant, Evenings At Five moves the reader to feel the void death leaves and to hear the voices that remain. It leaves you asking how much time is ever enough with your life's love.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on December 20, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
Gail Godwin, one of my all-time favorite authors, lost her long-time companion, composer Robert Starer, before writing this book as a tribute to him and their relationship. It is, in a word: Perfect.

For anyone who has ever felt unbearable grief, or for anyone who has felt the same measure of real love, this book is a tribute to the best of the human spirit. I was lucky enough to have listened to the Audio version, which is read by the author herself, and her lightly southern-tinged pleasant voice adds a measure of poignancy she may or may not have intended.

The fictional characters, Rudi and Christine, an author and a composer, live a life rich in every way, from their afternoon cocktail hour (preceded by a phone call from "Cope Paul," Rudi's fictional pontiff who urges them to have a drink) to their wide and wonderful collection of shared jokes, memories, people and most of all words...rich tapestries of words. Rudi is multi-lingual, and Christine is her willing foil.

It sounds like it was the perfect relationship we all want and need, and its loss it made all the more so by the way Christine's reaction to her unspeakable loss.

A truly beautiful book; I only wish I had seen the drawings that accompany the text, and will make sure I buy the book as well as the recording.
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