A fellow reader introduced this book to me. Someone who I respect very much and who has yet to let me down with a book recommendation. So, I didn’t hesitate and listened to “The Last Romantics” by Tara Conklin and narrated on Audible by Cassandra Campbell within a week of receiving the recommendation.
It was fitting timing for me since the main character, Fiona, is a writer who starts out with a blog. And since, like me, all of the characters are wrestling with the loss of a loved one.
Also, since the main character’s blog is a sex blog, Fiona wrestles with the stigma surrounding female sexuality. This is interesting to me because as I was reading the book, I was writing my first post about dating after losing my partner to cancer.
All of the nerves I was feeling about putting myself out there and about possibly offending people are dealt with in the “Last Romantic” quite a bit. At one point Fiona muses that people seem to think that “female sex appeal was dangerous. Sexual desire was something expressable exclusively by men.”
At this moment, Fiona is thinking about how porn is always on a high shelf and, as she puts it, out of the reach of children and women. She notes that her friends, fathers, and male teachers all reach for that high shelf and she wonders “where is my high shelf? And what wonders would I find there?”
I wonder the same. We should all wonder the same.
The book also dives deeply into depression and the impact it has on family members. This unsurfaces some of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of writing from Conklin.
“I believe now that certain events are inevitable. Not in a fateful way, for I have never had faith in anything but myself, but in the way of human nature. Some people will choose again and again to destroy what it is they value most.”
We have all met that person. The one with all the potential and charisma - and also with an unconscious need to sabotage the things and relationships they love most. Shoot, maybe we have all been that person during a fit of depression.
Diving into that thought process is, perhaps, what inspired Tara Conklin to have Fiona say this:
“The love of your life is always the one you have betrayed the most. The love that defines you is the one upon whom you once turned your back.”
An interesting read. I definitely recommend this one.