Title: The First Warm Evening of the Year
Author: Jamie M. Saul
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Geoffrey Tremont is in love with his bachelorhood in New York City. His life is uncomplicated, he has a flexible job he loves, and a girlfriend who puts no demands on him. He has no idea that his life is about to be turned upside down, starting with a registered letter from a lawyer’s office in upstate New York. It turns out that Geoffrey’s friend from college, Laura, has died and named him the executor of her estate for reasons that Geoffrey doesn’t know. He travels to her home and there, he meets Marian, Laura’s best friend, and he learns about Laura’s life.
The First Warm Evening of the Year is about love. All-consuming, passionate, knock-your-socks-off love. It’s what Geoffrey experiences the first time he sees Marian. He finds contentment in his simple life without any commitments or strings attached; he never thought he was missing anything. That is, until he meets Marian and realizes how much more is out there. It wonderful to watch Geoffrey really begin to live, especially because, though Marian is the catalyst, it isn’t about her. It’s about Geoffrey learning to love life for himself.
But The First Warm Evening of the Year is also about other, quieter types of love. It’s about the simple, friendly love that Laura and Geoffrey had for one another, and the fondness with which Laura remembered it. It’s about the very complicated love Laura had for her brother, Simon, and the consequences of which Geoffrey much deal with now that she’s gone.
Indeed, Simon presents an interesting twist to the seemingly simple storyline of The First Warm Evening of the Year. At first glance, Simon is selfish and has made a complete wreck of his life. Though he professes to be profoundly shaken by the fact that his sister is dead, Geoffrey isn’t sure what to think after his previous run-ins with Simon. It’s only after Geoffrey spends some time with him that he sees how truly broken Simon is, how much he has suffered under the weight of others’ expectations. Though Simon isn’t completely redeemable – he does act abominably in multiple instances – he reminds the reader that things are not always as straightforward as they seem.
Overall, The First Warm Evening of the Year is a contemplative, thoughtful read. It’s not slow by any means, as it moves forward at a steady pace, but it also doesn’t rush to any conclusion. This book is about the masterful building of characters and situations, coming together until they reach a breaking point and the reader knows something must change. Readers who enjoy thoughtful stories of love and loss will enjoy this well-written novel.