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Old Scores Hardcover – August, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (August 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446520462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446520461
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,351,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The story Delbanco (In the Name of Mercy, LJ 8/95) tells here is a familiar one: a charismatic college professor, Paul Ballard, falls in love with his beautiful and adoring female student Elizabeth. Delbanco handles the first part of this story in a masterly fashion, evoking with great skill the tender beginnings of a romance between the lonely professor and his idealistic student on the picturesque campus of Catamount College in Vermont in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, however, as the novel moves forward and the author introduces plot complications, the book loses much of its strength and charm. Paul suffers a near-fatal accident and inexplicably turns against Elizabeth. Elizabeth discovers that she is pregnant and gives up her daughter for adoption. Elizabeth and Paul are estranged for 25 years and are finally united. Delbanco introduces profoundly compelling themes?about "grand passion," loss, forgiveness, memory, and the tragic dimension of life?but he does not develop these themes successfully. Not recommended.?Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Reworking an old romance plot, Delbanco creates an often engaging account of a couple's lifelong exploration of love, apart and together. The principal lovers, Elizabeth and Paul, meet and consummate their relationship while she is his student at a small college in Vermont in 1969. After Paul has proposed marriage and Elizabeth has refused, and he has been hit by a car, they break off communications, until their child, surrendered for adoption in 1970 and wholly unbeknownst to Paul, tracks down Elizabeth 25 years later, who in turn tracks down Paul. This first interim period is somewhat unevenly dramatized, but the story revives when Paul begins to reenter the social world and when daughter Sally urgently articulates her desire to hear from her mother--"Would you tell me who you are . . . and what you were thinking and here's your big chance Mom. Your chance of a lifetime: write back." Such a determined meditation on love as this novel provides may give those usually fatigued by such matters second thoughts. Jim O'Laughlin

More About the Author

Nicholas Delbanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Hopwood Committee. He has published twenty-five books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent novels are The Count of Concord and Spring and Fall; his most recent works of non-fiction are The Countess of Stanlein Restored and The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life. As editor he has compiled the work of, among others, John Gardner and Bernard Malamud. The long-term Director of the MFA Program as well as the Hopwood Awards Program at the University of Michigan, he has served as Chair of the Fiction Panel for the National Book Awards, received a Guggenheim Fellowship and, twice, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tlemire@cnc.com on February 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The main reason I read Nicholas Delbanco is for the musicality of his prose: the cadence, tempo and unusual rhyhtms of his sentences, here addressed to a conventional drama of Professor Meets Girl. I'm reminded of an American ensemble who could only explain jazz to Chinese musicians by playing a traditional Chinese melody a la Theolonius Monk. Delbanco is like that. Each sentence reveals careful thought, each chapter orchestration. Not unlike a jazz musician, Delbanco receives too small attention: hunt down his novels and essays, and give a listen.
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By Tacitus on August 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Someone once told me that Nicholas Delbanco was the person referred to in Carly Simon's song "You're so vain." If so, this novel offers proof. The author's vanity is omnipresent, and the result is a stillborn book, whose characters all revolve around the impossibly wooden and self-regarding Paul Ballard, who seems to have lived his life inside a cacoon. The notion that such a person is capable of true passion is laughable, but the author apparently has no sense of irony about the entire frigid farce. He's so delighted with his fancy prose style that he fails to notice that almost nothing of authentic value from the real world gets into the book. Almost all the scenes are unconvincing, often the voices are stilted and out of sync. The emotional lives of the caracters are never truly captured. The only impressive thing about this ill-conceived effort is its title. If only he had realized the potential in that perfect pun! Instead we have a supposedly serious novelist trying to compete with The Bridges of Madison County and failing!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
In 1969, thirty-something Professor Paul Ballard teaches philosophy at Vermont's Catamount College. Paul is normally aloof in the classroom until Elizabeth Sieverdsen attends his class. The student and the teacher fall in love and begin a torrid affair that abruptly ends when she rejects his marriage proposal. She leaves him without informing him she carries his baby. Not long afterward, Paul is injured in an accident, ends his teaching career, and becomes a hermit on his remote farm. Elizabeth gives up the baby for adoption.
Over the years, Elizabeth marries and has children with her spouse, but never forgets her first love for Paul nor her abandonment of their child. With her marriage over and her nest empty, Elizabeth finally returns to Vermont for the first time in a quarter of a century. She meets Paul and hesitantly they try to regain what they lost.
OLD SCORES is an intriguing modern day retelling of the classic Abelard and Heloise tale. The story line works, especially the subplot occurring in 1969, due to the genuine feel of the interrelationships between the characters. Although not quite as masterful as WHAT REMAINS, Nicholas Delbanco provides a complex, intelligent tale centering on the difficulty of forging a relationship even when love ties the players together.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Delbanco is an extraordinary stylist with a compelling purchase on the human condition. In this, his latest novel,the author scores an ancient story (love found, relinquished, and recovered) so that it resonates and sustains long after the final notes are struck. Delbanco has found the emotional center of his subject without the sentimentality or maudlin cliches with which a lesser writer might have been content. Here, instead, we have a discerning wisdom that rises from the particularities of our lives so that the story, the characters, the emotional terrain emerge fresh and real amidst sentences that delight, vivify, ring true.
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