ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS by Ellen Sussman


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Dying woman finds true love before it’s too late—in a so-so debut.

Blair Clemens lives a semi-bohemian life in San Francisco, working as a chef to support herself and teenaged daughter Amanda. While Blair is something of a free spirit, at least as far as sleeping with men casually is concerned, she and Amanda—whose father was a brief affair during Blair’s hippie youth—are devoted to each other. Amanda doesn’t appear to have or need friends among her peers and displays no typical adolescent ambivalence toward her mother. Shortly after Blair learns she has incurable melanoma, she receives a phone call from Luke Bellingham. Luke is a successful screenwriter who’s been living for three months as a recluse in his mountain cabin since his wife left him without warning. Recruited by his and Blair’s prep-school reunion committee to track “lost souls” (missing alumni), he puts Blair first on his list because, while he never knew her well—he was handsome and popular, she a scholarship student outsider—he based his Academy Award–winning script on the story everyone in their town knew about her rape. Now the chemistry between her and Luke is immediate. Amanda is wary, although she loves his dog, but Luke begins to win her over too. Then Luke’s ex-wife Emily reappears, pregnant, and wants her husband back. Sensitive and responsible man that he is, Luke is torn, but no reader will doubt his choice. Conveniently, he discovers that Emily—actually the most complex character here—is lying about the paternity of her baby, and though he moves in with Blair and Amanda, he and Blair face yet another trial. Amanda reads a short story he’s written about a man’s attraction to a teenaged girl, and she confuses fiction with fact. After Luke proves his innocence, the three settle into his mountain cabin to await Blair’s demise.

Good sex scenes in an otherwise run-of -the-mill pseudo-literary romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2004
ISBN: 0-446-53141-3
Page count: 302pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003


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