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The Last of Her Kindby Sigrid Nunez
Synopses & Reviews
The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshmen on the Columbia campus in 1968. Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. She is mortified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself is hoping college will enable her to escape. After the violent fight that ends their friendship, Georgette wants only to forget Ann and to turn her attention to the troubled runaway kid sister who has reappeared after years on the road. Then, in 1976, Ann is convicted of murder. At first, Ann's fate appears to be the inevitable outcome of her belief in the moral imperative to "make justice" in a world where "there are no innocent white people." But, searching for answers to the riddle of this friend of her youth, Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work. As the novel's narrator, Georgette illuminates the terrifying life of this difficult, doomed woman, and in the process discovers how much their early encounter has determined her own path, and why, decades later, as she tells us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."
"When Georgette George and Ann Drayton meet in 1968 as freshmen roommates at Barnard College, Georgette marvels that her privileged, brilliant roommate envies Georgette's rough, impoverished childhood. Through the vehicle of this fascinating friendship, Nunez's sophisticated new novel (after For Rouenna) explores the dark side of the countercultural idealism that swept the country in the 1960s. Hyperbolic even for the times, Ann's passionate commitment to her beliefs — unwavering despite the resentment from those she tries to help — haunts Georgette, the novel's narrator, long after the women's lives diverge. In 1976, Ann lands in prison for shooting and killing a policeman in a misguided attempt to rescue her activist black boyfriend from a confrontation. The novel's generous structure also gracefully encompasses the story of Georgette's more conventional adult life in New York (she becomes a magazine editor, marries, and bears two children), plus that of Georgette's runaway junkie sister. Nunez reveals Ann's life in prison via a moving essay by one of her fellow inmates. By the end of this novel — propelled by rich, almost scholarly prose — all the parts come together to capture the violent idealism of the times while illuminating a moving truth about human nature." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"When it comes to the 1960's, the truth often seems like fiction, and one of the best ways to believe what you're reading is to know that the writer herself was there as an eyewitness....It's not hard to suspect she has plenty of good stories about her own life to tell." New York Times
"The narrative style is as clear and affecting as ever, capturing the viewpoints and inflections of various characters without losing its compelling intensity. What is most striking about the novel, though, is its strongly imagined portrait of the 1960s." Wall Street Journal
"Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind begins in that year of many kinds of infamy, 1968. Nunez understands so well the passions of this wise and foolish time that her novel could fruitfully be read by our current, depressingly untutored generation in its American history classes." Chicago Tribune
"What keeps the novel from being just a history lesson...is Nunez's exploration of the many ways women communicate, and how it's possible to think of a friend every day, and yet not talk to her for years." Christian Science Monitor
"Nunez captures the attitudes and rhetoric of this bygone age, and highlights the vulnerabilities of people caught up in a rapid recasting of social mores." Baltimore Sun
"Nunez moves far past the obvious cliches about activism to show a character who, while not always completely sympathetic, is nonetheless multifaceted and three-dimensional. Told in Georgette's graceful, introspective voice, this engrossing, beautiful novel will enthrall readers." Booklist
"Stunningly powerful." Library Journal
"Her spare voice...gives even the simplest descriptions of place and weather unsettling force and beauty." Village Voice
Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. A decade later, Ann is convicted of murder, and Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work.
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
Ann Drayton and Georgette George meet as freshmen roommates at Barnard College in 1968. Ann, who comes from a wealthy New England family, is brilliant and idealistic. Georgette, who comes from a bleak town in upstate New York, is mystified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself is hoping college will enable her to escape. An intense and difficult friendship is born.
Years after a fight ends their friendship, Ann is convicted of a violent crime. As Georgette struggles to understand what has happened, she is led back to their shared history and to an examination of the revolutionary era in which the two women came of age. Only now does she discover how much her early encounter with this extraordinary, complicated woman has determined her own path in life, and why, after all this time, as she tells us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."
About the Author
Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel is For Rouenna, a 2001 New York Times Notable Book. She has been the recipient of several awards, including a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York.
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