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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They thought love would last forever. They were wrong. Then, nearly 40 years later, there comes an invitation...
If ever you've considered revisiting the lost love of your youth...or have actually done it, then this is without question a book I think you'll want to read and will long remember.

Superbly constructed and beautifully written by master storyteller Mary Gordon, this is the tale of Miranda, now an epidemiologist, and Adam, now a music teacher, who fell in love...
Published on March 4, 2011 by Sharon Isch

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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars blah blah blah
I read (and loved) Mary Gordons first novel, Final Payments when it was published in 1978, so I am the right age to empathize with her geriatric former lovers. I tried
very hard to like this book. There were lovely, insightful passages, and the idea
of the long estranged couple meeting in Rome, where they had lived together years ago, and becoming...
Published on April 27, 2011 by nose in book


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2.0 out of 5 stars Wooden, dull, and self-indulgent, September 15, 2011
This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Mary Gordon has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. Her books are subtle and display her fine craftsmanship as a rule. I am sorry to say that "The Love of My Youth," is a complete misfire. While there are moments of very fine writing, they are brief and easy to miss. The book is structured around the theme of nostalgia (never a good thing) as Miranda and Adam, once passionate lovers, discover one another again while in Rome. Of course, it had to be Rome.

The book moves between each protagonist's memories of their times in the past (Miranda, the social activist, Adam, the bookish non activist) and the long walks the two take through Rome. The dialogue is unbelievably wooden -- so poorly done that I am truly surprised that Gordon allowed it to stand. For awhile, I tried to convince myself that I should try to read this book as a kind of fable where flat characters are allowed. But in the end, I ahd to concede that this was just a badly written and more than a little self-indulgent wallow.

I will undoubtedly pick up Mary Gordon's next novel -- even the finest of authors misfires on occasion. But I recommend giving this one a miss.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as moving as the premise leads you to believe, July 28, 2011
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wroxton (Amenia, New York United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Everyone dreams of meeting their first love again. Miranda and Adam got that chance when their paths crossed in Rome. After decades they were finally given the opportunity to bury the ghosts that haunted them through their lives. Unfortunately this reader wasn't touched as deeply by their reconciliation as I should have been.
I hope if I ever get the chance to again meet my first love again it will be more exciting than this book was.
I usually love Mary Gordon's novels. I was very disappointed that I didn't love this one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Curious Reunion, April 25, 2011
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This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Although Miranda would never consider Adam to be the "love of her life," beyond a doubt, he was the "love of her youth." Adam, in his turn, feels the same way about Miranda. In what was the first serious experience with love for both of them, Miranda and Adam fell madly in love in the mid-1960s when both were 16-year-old high school students. They seemed destined to spend the rest of their lives together until Adam made one terrible mistake - a mistake he has felt guilty about for more than thirty years, a betrayal of her trust so terrible that Miranda has never gotten over it.

When, in late 2007, the two of them, now not having spoken for three decades, find themselves in Rome at the same time, each rather reluctantly agrees to a brief reunion there. Adam hopes to find that what he did to Miranda did not destroy her, that she is healthy and happy with the life she created for herself after the shock of his betrayal - most importantly, that an apology from him is not something she needs to hear. Miranda, who takes pride in her personal courage, decides to meet with Adam because she feels that a woman her age should not have anyone in her life that she feels incapable of facing.

Thus begins a series of long walks around the city during which Miranda and Adam have long philosophical conversations about everything but what tore them apart in their early twenties. Both are as reluctant to confront that horrible memory directly as they are to discuss any details or feelings about their families. The more the pair talks during their exploratory walks around Rome, the more the reader begins to wonder whether their relationship was doomed even before Adam's fatal error - whatever that error may have been.

By alternating flashbacks to the 1960s with scenes from the present, Gordon emphasizes how little Miranda and Adam have changed. As a young man, Adam was focused exclusively on a future as a successful concert pianist; he demanded that his girlfriend (and any future wife) dedicate her life to helping make his dream come true. In Adam's mind, Miranda's dreams and ambitions were secondary to his, if they were to be considered at all. The young Miranda, however, believed she could change the world, and she was willing to place herself in danger in order to do so. What she was not willing to do was to view her ambitions as less important than Adam's.

The Love of My Youth builds slowly, steadily increasing the reader's curiosity about what really happened, what terrible thing Adam did to destroy the relationship forever. Gordon adds layer after detailed layer to the characters Miranda and Adam until they become very real, if flawed, people. Gordon has, in fact, achieved the difficult task of making this reader care about her two main characters without liking either one of them. Fans of previous Mary Gordon novels are likely to enjoy this one.
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, October 9, 2014
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This was the story of an annoying, self centered woman and I hated the book!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I DIDN'T ASK FOR A TRAVELOGUE, February 4, 2012
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This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
Whew, speaking of talky! And boring and pretentious. Okay, the parts about Adam and Miranda as teenagers were a bit less dull than the main story in Rome, In fact, though I'm sure Rome is a wonderful city, I didn't think I was buying a travel guide. Statue after statue, fountain after fountain, and on and on. And the dialogue is so unreal it's laughable. Who talks that way? It's as though they were reading a very arty script, perhaps for a stage play. The idea is good, but the execution not so much. This could have been a whole lot better if Miranda and Adam spoke like real people who have not rehearsed their lines and are ready with literate, thoughtful responses at the snap of the fingers. I skipped parts and was essentially waiting for the end to find out about the betrayal.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!!, August 13, 2011
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bks (Madison, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
I think this is Mary Gordon at her best. I loved it. Gordon has such an amazing ability to dig into the heart of the characters; she doesn't miss a trick. I loved how she wove the past and present into the novel. With each chapter Miranda and Adam dare to face the past, bit by bit, with each chapter building on the next. The first exploration into the past leaves you wanting more and when you return to the present, you are given samples of emotional discoveries leaving you wanting more, but you know that soon you will once again return to the past for deeper clarifications. For me this book was like a fine meal. Each course (chapter) was better than the last and finally, the "piéce de résistance," the luscious, fabulous dessert: the resolution and finale. I LOVED IT!!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Roman Holiday, July 8, 2011
This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Mary Gordon's novel The Love of My Youth reunites two people who were each other's first love in the beautiful setting of Rome. I have never been to Rome, and I think if I had, I would have a better appreciation for this quiet story. Miranda, a epidemiologist specializing in environmental threats, is in Rome for a work conference. She finds out that Peter, a music teacher and her high school sweetheart, is also in Rome with his daughter, who is studying music.

They agree to meet each day so that Peter can show Miranda the sights. They haven't seen each other since college, and the mystery of why they broke up thirty years ago is explained at the end of the story. I liked that we got to see their entire love story, from teenage crush to full-blown, all-encompassing love to devastating breakup. They have always been two very different people: Miranda more of the physical world, "she could spend hours looking, sorting", and Peter lived for his music, with the external world not existing for him for all he knew.

It is a wonder that they got together, and when they meet again, it is only natural that they wonder how their lives would be different if they had never broken up. They speak of their lives now, their spouses, their children, but underneath it all is a simmering attraction.

The writing is thoughtful and visual, such as "his words have made her mind shut down, like one of those metal shutters storekeepers pull down at closing time." Gordon puts the reader into the minds of these two memorable characters, and it may cause the reader to reflect on his or her own past loves. What would it be like to meet him/her again thirty years later?

Their characters are best revealed through their conversations, and they seemed fall back on old habits very easily. I don't know that that would be true for most people.

The novel is a wonderful character study and travelogue, and the mystery of why they broke up (even though I'm not sure their differences could have ultimately been overcome) keeps the reader turning the pages. I dare you to not think of your own "what if" as you read it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Gordon is wonderful, May 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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What continues to impressses me about Mary Gorden is that her characters feel so real; You put the book down and hours later you will be reflecting on their lives and how they are similiar or different from you own. I laughed aloud as one night brushing my teeth I found myself worried about the man she describes, "who had not given up his calling." In short, she creates real people - that you feel priveledged to know.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some beautiful writing, but frustratingly unrealistic, May 8, 2011
This review is from: The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This will be a good choice for someone who is very interested in Rome; it is filled with travelogue-type descriptions of, and musings on, many different areas of the city. Other reviewers have described the story, so I won't reiterate plot details. The idea of the Adam and Miranda's reunion was a pleasing one to me, and I was very eager to read The Love of My Youth, but I was so disappointed by the strangeness of the way they related to each other. The book is filled with gorgeous writing (my favorite phrase is "...breaking up the flat glass sheet of death") which works in the general narrative, but seems to me to be ridiculous in the dialogue. Early on, Adam says to Miranda, "You fled from boredom as if you were fleeing from infection." A sample of Miranda to Adam: "The anguish I created for my mother, like a kind of weather she had to fear every night when the sun set." I am about Miranda's age; no one I know, male or female, talks like this!!! The formal, stylized dialogue was too much of a distraction, so I ended up just skimming after the first hundred pages. Also, their initial meetings were so stiff and almost lifeless--to me, completely unrealistic. (The flashbacks to the 60's seemed to consist of cliches and one-dimensional perspectives, but I was only skimming through most of this.) I know many people loved this book; my reaction is mostly a matter of taste. The writing is skilled and beautiful, but the book did not engage me. Mary Lee Moser, author, There and Back: A Journal Companion for Special Needs Parents
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 23, 2014
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This review is from: The Love of My Youth (Paperback)
Nice story
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The Love of My Youth: A Novel
The Love of My Youth: A Novel by Mary Gordon (Hardcover - April 5, 2011)
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