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The Last Night I Spent with You: A Novel Hardcover – May 30, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sexually explicit novella, the fifth fiction by Cuban-born author Montero, is structured contrapuntally. In alternating first-person narratives, the short narrative's first story line concerns a middle-aged couple, long married, who take a Caribbean cruise after the wedding of their 22-year-old daughter. Fernando, the husband, is a 50-year-old accountant with a passion for music--principally old-fashioned boleros. He is also an aficionado of "gringo magazines" like National Geographic, from which he culls disturbing reports of violent animal (and sometimes human) sexual encounters. Although three years younger than his wife, he has previously engaged in only a few, unsatisfactory, infidelities. On the cruise, however, he becomes infatuated with a white-haired woman in her late 40s, who calls herself Julieta and claims to be a recently widowed harpist. Meanwhile, Fernando's wife, Celia, turns to sex with an anonymous boatman in an attempt to exorcise the haunting memories of a passionate but brutal and guilt-ridden affair that caused her, 14 years ago, to neglect her dying father and her daughter. A second, less fully developed story--marred in its development by a few lapses in narrative logic--is set forth in brief letters to a mysterious Angela from a lover called Abel, meshing finally with the stories of Fernando's family. The references to song lyrics throughout will not resonate with those to whom "bolero" means only Ravel's wordless composition. But knowledge of that notoriously sensual music is enough to appreciate the long, breathless sentences that depict and simulate the characters' actual and imaginary couplings. Montero's deadpan humor sharpens her account of the passions of her middle-aged protagonists, and she adroitly establishes Fernando and Celia's separate viewpoints in her flexible, hypnotic prose. 4-city author tour. (June) FYI: Montero's novel was a finalist for Spain's Sonrisa Prize for erotic literary fiction.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A Spanish dance in simple triple time, the bolero is danced by one or several couples. Think of the Ravel composition of that name, in which a single theme is repeated over and over, becoming louder and more intense as the music progresses, and you have the appropriate metaphor for the latest novel by Montero (The Messenger). Celia and Fernando, long-married empty nesters, cruise the Caribbean Islands, searching to add spice to their relationship. They meet the mysterious Julieta during their island-hopping, partner-swapping adventures of erotic ecstasy and animal passion. As these adventures continue, their intensity increases, climaxing with the revelation of Julieta's secret. This book is not recommended to those who are squeamish about sex or those who prefer their novels intricately plotted. But for readers who enjoy brief novels, graphic lust, tropical settings, and explorations of the linked fantasies of passion and destructionDwell, this is the book for them.DYvette Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060952903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060952907
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,049,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This novel is written primarily in sexual terms - memories of infidelities, present maritial and extra-maritial sex, and sexual fantasties; if detours here and there to explore death - real and imagined. It explores the relationship between a couple on a cruise ship vacation following the marriage of their daughter - an only child. While that description may not make the book sound interesting, the book is excellent - it has a tightly written plot with unusual relationships between its characters and with surprising twists that provide the insights into the characters' personalities that hold the story together.
However, if you've read nothing by Montero, I would suggest either of her other translated books - In the Palm of Darkness or The Messager - as more indicative of her style.
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Format: Hardcover
A fabulous note of erotic repartee - the story flows and in each chapter you confront the characters - their dark sides, telescopic views trying to reach beyond the wider ring of the lenses. The book consists of three characters Fernando , his wife Celia and Julieta. The attraction between Fernando and Julieta at some point seems to be fatal and Fernando suffering from mid-life crisis jumps towards Julieta during their maiden cruise trip to the Caribbean. The relationships build and destroy and rebuild around the lines of bolero (love song in South America) so it will be better if you have at least a little concept of bolero and what it means. This is not exactly a novel but a novella and if you can have a of scotch on the rocks and music by Eros Ramazotti to accompany this book then you will finish it in three hours. The translation by Edith Grossman is superlative as always. (I find Edith's translation always a safe bet). The eroticism never turns into pure lust and the grey line between eroticism and vulgar is never touched. This book calls for a delicate reading atmosphere - please do not try to read it in the airport. After you finish the book please again go back and read the letter to Angela and then they will make more sense. I deducted one star and lipped in only four because I was expecting a chapter from Julieta but it never showed up.
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By S. Lewis on November 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Last Night I Spent With You was provactive and sexually explicit story of a middle-aged couple who decided to have a getaway after their daughter's wedding. The two engage in extreme sexual endeavors over the course of the cruise. This story has in it the components of a true masterpiece. The graphic imagery is on a level of no other and compells you to think outside of the box. This story delves into the complexity of the couples minds and what really lies beneath the surface of certain people. While extremely graphic at times, The Last Night I Spent With You combines the art of language with mysterious illusion. You never know what to expect while reading it; filled with many twists and turns. The main characters' lives compared to their innermost thoughts completely negate each other. Fernando, Celia, and Julieta are the main characters; each of them connected in several ways. Although Fernando is married, his sexual attraction to middle-aged Julietta seems inevitable. The sexual endeavors of all of the characters seem almost brutal, but it causes you to imagine the unimaginable. Overall, The Last Night I Spent With You is recommended. The writing is superior and the language is graphic, but if you are looking for a challenge, this book will be perfect for you.
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By Corinne R. Gilliard on October 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mayra Montero's sexually-charged novella entitled "The Last Night I Spent With You" is haunting yet enchanting. Through her descriptive portrayals and vivid images, Montero takes her readers on an unexpected journey that has their eyes glued to the pages. The story is told through the eyes of an older couple whose views alternate in between chapters. The couple appears to be lacking the spark that once flamed in their relationship. The couple has a recently married daughter, leaving the couple alone. The couple then embarks on a vacation that seems to be anything but a bonding experience.
The couple encounter other people that take them back to their past and allow them to relive passions that they once had when they were younger. This leads to serious infidelities in between the couple.
Montero weaves in and out the story through different perspectives, which at times may leave her readers confused, but challenged. Her deadpan humor adds some humanity to the sometimes overly graphic and grotesque images that she creates. Overall, I would recommend "The Last Night I Spent With You" to anyone who can think outside of the box and isn't easily disgusted.
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By D. Tate on December 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Last Night I Spent with You was a roller coaster ride of passionate love, passionate love - making, and ironic relationships. Montero does an excellent job giving beautiful imagery that transports the reader to a cruise ship, the islands, and a number of other places that you would truly enjoy. Her writing style is very fluid, she has the ability to tell the story from many different points of view and tie all of them in collectively for a very interesting surprise. She made me feel like a fly on the wall in the room with every turn of the page sometime I didn't know if I should be there or not, but I didn't want to leave. I had the opportunity to read one of my favorite excerpts in class. In this particular scene the author dove into the psyche of Fernando and she accomplished it through an explicit sexcapade. Montero began to tell a story of before he was married She used a transition piece of why Fernando didn't like the smell of cinnamon to take the reader to the past. This book is not only a great literary work of art it is also very steamy, not to mention there is a twist at the very end to bring the entire book together, you'll love it.
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