LAST LOVERS by William Wharton


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Wharton processes a slow, sugarcoated buzz in this charming but perforated confection, once again falling short of the verve achieved in Birdy (1979) and Dad (1981). Jack, a successful middle-aged executive stationed in Paris, responds to a personal crisis by changing the course of his by- the-book life. Discovering that his wife has been unfaithful, Jack can no longer find a good reason to toil within the bowels of his multinational and cuts out, leaving job and family behind. Fired by a youthful dream of becoming an artist, Jack holes up in a squatter's garret by night and paints in a Parisian park by day. Jack-now Jacques-is befriended by a 71-year-old blind woman (Mirabelle) who frequents the park, and is persuaded to move out of his hideaway into her apartment. From here it is only a matter of time, French cuisine, and intimate evenings together before Jacques discovers that a woman can be both elderly and appealing. The teasing evolution of Jacques and Mirabelle's relationship from friendship to erotic romance is deliberately implausible, but Wharton succeeds by building slowly and creating an atmosphere of inevitability, if not believability. In Birdy, Franky Furbo and other previous work, Wharton undercut the seeming naturalism of his prose with a fantastic event or revelation. Not leaving well enough alone, the author adds such a curve here: the sudden restoration of Mirabelle's eyesight. But the Whartonian curve in this one-following an already shaky premise-comes across as unnecessary and flailing. All in all: sadly familiar post-Birdy, post-Dad coasting.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-374-18389-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991


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