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On a Night Like This Hardcover – February 10, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Sussman's heart-wrenching debut, two former high school classmates take a second chance at love, despite one partner's terminal cancer. Resisting the impulse to descend into bathos, Sussman shows remarkable restraint in her depiction of a love affair that transforms a dying woman's last days into a celebration of life. When Luke Bellingham, an acclaimed screenwriter in his 40s, agrees to become "Finder of Lost Souls" for his 25th high school reunion, the only lost classmate he really wants to find is the enigmatic Blair Clemens, whose gang rape at 17 inspired his Oscar-winning screenplay, Pescadero. Suffering from writer's block and his wife's sudden desertion, Luke is thrilled to discover that Blair lives near him in San Francisco. Bohemian Blair is now a single mom as well as chef of a chic restaurant, but beginning a relationship is definitely not on her agenda when she agrees to reconnect with Luke after first meeting his cute dog, Sweetpea. All she wants to do is work, have no-strings sex with her ever-randy ex-hippie landlord and enjoy what's left of her life with her teenage daughter, Amanda. At their initial meeting, the immediately smitten Luke informs her, "On a night like this, I could fall in love," and Blair, frightened by her own attraction, quickly retorts, "Don't bother... I'm dying." The novel's elegant denouement and Sussman's fluid treatment of tough moments make this a keeper for fans of high-caliber weepies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Blair Clemens is dying, and although she's not in denial, she's not sure how to tell her 16-year-old daughter, Amanda. She's raised Amanda by herself, and the closest people in her life are Daniel, her boss at the restaurant where she works, and Casey, her sleazy landlord--until Luke Bellingham walks back into her life. Luke and Blair went to high school together, though quiet outcast Blair never got close to handsome, popular Luke. He is still reeling from his wife's departure three months' prior and trying to hunt her down. He gets involved with organizing his high-school reunion almost by accident, and agrees to help track down former students. First on his list is Blair. The sparks fly instantaneously between the two, but between Blair's illness and Luke's determination to locate his wife, there might be too many issues separating them. Or are there? When Luke's wife unexpectedly returns, Luke finds himself still longing for Blair. Readers should have a box of tissues handy while reading this sweet, romantic debut. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (February 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446531413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446531412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,129,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A WEDDING IN PROVENCE, THE PARADISE GUEST HOUSE, FRENCH LESSONS, and ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, BAD GIRLS: 26 WRITERS MISBEHAVE and DIRTY WORDS: A LITERARY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SEX. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes. www.ellensussman.com

Customer Reviews

Thoroughly enjoyed the character development and plot .
bbd
This is the only thing I would like to see changed - the author will soon learn to leave a little more to the readers' imaginations.
C. Kabat
I look forward to reading future books by Ellen Sussman.
Eric K.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Kabat on September 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ellen Sussman has written a beautiful story. As an avid reader, sometimes I find a book that keeps my thoughts totally fixed on the story. This is one of them. No "wandering" at all!

The "lifestyle" of Blair is depicted early in the book pretty graphically. This is the only thing I would like to see changed - the author will soon learn to leave a little more to the readers' imaginations.

I will eagerly await her next book - let's hope there are many "next books!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookaholic on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a graceful collision between a cheesy newstand romance, a melodramatic literary novel, and hippie chick-lit. The premise is totally relate-able -- two former high school classmates, who never spoke more than a few words to each other, meet years and years later. It's a little hard to believe how grounded the main female character is -- she is dying of cancer, she is a single mom, she suffered a major trauma in high school. Yet she remains a happy hippie chef. I also had diffiult buying that the two main characters could fall in love so easily, just like that. They almost overnight went from strangers walking his dog together while she was in her nightgown and jeans to deeply in love. The daughter was also the usual jaded, hard-bitten, angry daughter. But, in the end, it kept my attention. So it was cliche -- but it did the cliches well.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ken Sonenclar on March 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a marvelous book! "On A Night Like This" is anything but expected. The characters are real and heartfelt - complicated people who are fighting their way through a painful crucible. I cheered for them while feeling their sorrows. The style of "On A Night Like This" soars above - way above - the romance and chick lit it's been compared to. The mother-daughter struggles of Blair and Amanda are familiar enough, but Ellen Sussman infuses this relationship with some wonderfully wise twists. And Luke, while he earns his stripes as a jerk at times, makes for a worthy counterpoint to Blair's unvarnished emotion. The beautifully drawn California setting further enhances this sad but enveloping novel. This is a terrific read.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I cried through so much of this book but I couldn't put it down. 3 lost people found each other at a time in their lives when it was most needed. Blair, who is dying, needed to find true love for the completion of her life. Luke, who has recently been separated from his wife, needed to find unconditional and unselfish love. Amanda, Blair's 16 year old daughter, needed to learn to love someone besides Mom and to deal with the hardships of life. As the book goes on, the 3 of them bonded together in such a way that the bond would never be broken. I loved Sweetpea, the dog. She was the unselfish constant in all 3 lives and, as a pet lover, I know the importance of a pet's unconditional support. She was great!
I loved it and I think everyone should read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Duende on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reads more like a screen play than a novel...Thinly developed characters,intriguing
plot line, lots of witty banter but never achieves any true psychological depth... Although
the story is a sad one the author uses humour to tell the story of two lovers brought together
by a high school reunion which neither attends....San Francisco is the backdrop and anyone
who knows that city will enjoy the intimate glimpses of certain neighborhoods....A good read
but don't expect great literature.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Anderson VINE VOICE on April 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. It made me cry,yet it was so uplifting. Much in the style of Elizabeth Berg (Never Change).
It is the story of three lost people who find each other. Blair is dying of cancer. Amanda is her 16 year old daughter struggling with loss and then there is Luke the old high school friend who was nothing to her then and becomes everything to her now.
I highly reccomend this book. Good story. Loved it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't mind 'sassy' heroines, even where they're overdrawn and romanticised, but this is just silly. The connections between characters are ridiculously implausible, as is the plot and many little details. (In a remote cabin in the woods, Blair 'presses a button' for self-administered morphine but the iv equipment must have just appeared and hooked up to her all by itself.) If you've had cancer or you're living with someone with it, and you're examining your own experience, avoid this book; it doesn't offer any insights at all into living with a life-threatening disease or learning how to die.
Get _Love Life_ by Ray Kuun instead.
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By A Customer on February 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This debut novel is both engaging and entertaining, and makes a good one-night read. Ultimately, though, in limiting herself primarily to fast-paced, witty dialog with little introspection or exposition, Sussman fails to develop multifaceted characters who linger with the reader after the book is finished. Although topically about deeply emotional and moral issues, the book takes the easy way out by allowing its characters to skim along the surface. However, if you're in the mood for a not-too-heavy tear-jerker with characters you can like, this is a good choice.
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