Evening

by Susan Minot

Paperback, 1999

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Vintage Contemporaries, 1999.

Description

With two novels and one short story collection published to overwhelming critical acclaim ("Monkeys takes your breath away," said Anne Tyler; "heartbreaking, exhilarating," raved the New York Times Book Review), Susan Minot has emerged as one of the most gifted writers in America, praised for her ability to strike at powerful emotional truths in language that is sensual and commanding, mesmerizing in its vitality and intelligence. Now, with Evening, she gives us her most ambitious novel, a work of surpassing beauty. During a summer weekend on the coast of Maine, at the wedding of her best friend, Ann Grant fell in love. She was twenty-five. Forty years later--after three marriages and five children--Ann Lord finds herself in the dim claustrophobia of illness, careening between lucidity and delirium and only vaguely conscious of the friends and family parading by her bedside, when the memory of that weekend returns to her with the clarity and intensity of a fever-dream. Evening unfolds in the rushlight of that memory, as Ann relives those three vivid days on the New England coast, with motorboats buzzing and bands playing in the night, and the devastating tragedy that followed a spectacular wedding. Here, in the surge of hope and possibility that coursed through her at twenty-five--in a singular time of complete surrender--Ann discovers the highest point of her life. Superbly written and miraculously uplifting, Evening is a stirring exploration of time and memory, of love's transcendence and of its failure to transcend--a rich testament to the depths of grief and passion, and a stunning achievement.… (more)

Media reviews

In her stunning novel, "Evening," Ms. Minot has taken the same material and techniques employed in her earlier books and fashioned a powerful story, a story that cuts back and forth in time to give us both the defining moment in a woman's life and an understanding of how that moment has
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reverberated throughout the remainder of her days.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member carmarie
This book has really touched my heart. The writing was so unique and I loved it. The way the endless sentences flowed like a stream of consciousness. The story of Ann and Harris left me ache for them. Beautifully done.
LibraryThing member eembooks
Interesting book. Lots of characters and sometimes difficult to follow the switching back and forth. As I understand it the movie did follow the book very carefully.
LibraryThing member kck
I loved this the first time I read it several years ago, and wanted to re-read it before I saw the movie. I loved it just as much this time.
LibraryThing member Norabee
Whatever We May Think of at the End of Life

This was truly a striking story. I didn’t like it much at first, but as I continued reading I saw there was something beautiful being realized. I had a good feeling after I finished reading it – I enjoyed the story and admire Susan Minot’s confidence
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to write a novel in this way – her loose, rambling style captured the subconscious mind.

It’s true that this is a sprawling story which was sometimes hard to follow but I think that often, that’s the way memories get tangled up at the end of life after an illness. It gives the reader an inside view of dying, which is very thought-provoking. I’m intrigued to see the movie and to see how their treatment affects the plot and storyline.
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LibraryThing member novelcommentary
I found this novel quite remarkable as it depicts the thought process of Ann Lord. She is on her deathbed and slipping in and out of memories about events of her life. The main memory is of a brief love affair she had at 25, obviously an experience that has remianed with her through multiple
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husbands and 5 children. There is a stream of consciousness to the writing and the detail seems right on. The New York Times description below does a nice job of summarizing :

"July 1954. An island off the coast of Maine. Ann Grant—a 25-year-old New York career girl—is a bridesmaid at her best friend's lavish wedding. Also present is a man named Harris Arden, whom Ann has never met . . .

After three marriages and five children, Ann Lord lies in an upstairs bedroom of a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. What comes to her, eclipsing a stream of doctor's visits and friends stopping by and grown children overheard whispering from the next room, is a rush of memories from a weekend 40 years ago in Maine, when she fell in love with a passion that even now throws a shadow onto the rest of her life. In Evening, Susan Minot gives us a novel of spellbinding power on the nature of memory and love."

What is not mentioned in the summary is the images she creates in her writing and the unique point of view, depicting a woman's thoughts as she struggles in and out of a drug induced coma. Highly recommended.

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LibraryThing member swinemil
Perhaps if thre wern't so many books out there to read, I owould have forced myself to finish this and I might have found it better than 2 stars.
As far as i got though, it was confusing and seemed somewhat mundane.
A women lays dying and remembers snippets of her life. Very difficult to read due
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to jumps in time.
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LibraryThing member kguris
I enjoyed how the style of the writing changed based on where you were in Ann's life. I almost felt like I could "see" what Ann was feeling. A great read! I plan on watching the movie now to compare!
LibraryThing member AuthorMarion
In 1955 Ann Grant attends the wedding of her best friend in Maine. During that fateful weekend she falls in love with a young doctor from Chicago. Fate works her magic and they consummate their love within hours of meeting each other. Forty-eight hours later the doctor’s fiancee arrives and tells
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her betrothed that she is carrying his child. He is torn between his love for Ann and his duty to his intended.

Now at the end of her life Ann Grant Lord lies in her bed. She is dying from cancer and each day the pain gets worse. Her children from her three marriages gather round and keep a death vigil while Ann mentally slips back in time to that weekend in 1955 when she fell in love. Her memories of that weekend become mixed with memories of her three marriages and with the hallucinations brought on by the heavy pain medicines she is taking.

This is an interesting book; highly imaginative in the way that it is written. The reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride through the mind of a dying woman who mentally reviews her life and still wonders what if she had married her young Chicago doctor. Throughout the narrative she is speaking to a male entity – it is never clear if that person is at her bedside in substance or only in spirit. We are led to believe that it is her young beau from 1955. She relives that fateful weekend in great detail although the memories are mixed with memories of other men (her three husbands) and other places she has been. Her children are the buzzards circling her deathbed. Nurse Brown is the voice of reason who writes her reports on her patient in a clinical manner that is much needed after the ramblings of the elderly Ann.

For me this book gave insight into the final days and hours of a person who has accepted her fate, knows she is about to die, and embraces the end. Everything else is secondary. A thought-provoking story that I finished in under a week.
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LibraryThing member wareagle78
This is the story of a woman dying of cancer. It takes place mostly in her mind and memories, as she relives the weekend where she first fell in love, as well as other, more disjointed, recollections.

The book uses several devices to make the reader feel like s/he is in the woman's mind, including
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page-long stream of consciousness phrasings and quick jumps between pasts and the present. I appreciated what Minot was trying to do, but I found it difficult to read, both literally and figuratively.
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LibraryThing member jimnicol
Liked the prose and the looking-back-on-a-life emotion...
LibraryThing member christinejoseph
about a woman dying who remembers a weekend long ago she fell in love — okay reading — I'm pondering this is the 2nd book I've read other than May Sarton - The Reckoning about people at the end go back think about profound love, friendships — not their family or life they've lived too
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commonplace — they were there — but what might have been an intense moment, relationship, that ended abruptly or not so but vanished + still is the high point of their life.

During a summer weekend on the coast of Maine, at the wedding of her best friend, Ann Grant fell in love. She was twenty-five. Forty years later--after three marriages and five children--Ann Lord finds herself in the dim claustrophobia of illness, careening between lucidity and delirium and only vaguely conscious of the friends and family parading by her bedside, when the memory of that weekend returns to her with the clarity and intensity of a fever-dream.
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LibraryThing member Charon07
Ann Lord is lying in “the last room,” dying of cancer. As she slips into and out of lucidity, she remembers her life, her three marriages, the high and low points, and in particular one weekend and one very special relationship.
“She woke and thought of what was left. She had always believed
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in the accepted wisdom that what was important would endure and in the end survive and what mattered would last and be recognized and saved. But she saw now that was not true.”

Susan Minot manages to convey Ann's state of mind convincingly and lyrically:
“She grew sensitive to the different shades of white on the ceiling. Her sense was not always right. The position of her arm had something to do with inviting people to dinner. She needed to move the pillow so a boat could dock there. She knew it wasn't logical and wondered if the drugs were obscuring things then it seemed as if the drugs were making it easier to read the true meaning.”

One tiny quibble is that the style is at times almost self-consciously, ostentatiously lyrical. Nevertheless, it never interferes with and almost always enhances the story, which is heartbreaking and beautiful.
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Awards

Dublin Literary Award (Longlist — 2000)
LA Times Book Prize (Finalist — Fiction — 1998)

Language

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