Every year, around this time, I’m drawn to books with titles and covers like The First Warm Evening of the Year. I always think that a story set in early summer is just what I need to get me through these last few weeks of winter. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite found the perfect book for this time of year and The First Warm Evening of the Year wasn’t the book I was expecting.
I should start off by saying that I could not finish The First Warm Evening of the Year. I give books, especially ones I’m reading for a tour like this one, a fair chance. I read 100 pages of this book and tried to get into the story and enjoy it, but I just couldn’t. I found the story to be unbelievable and the writing lacking, despite some wonderful descriptions and intrigue.
Geoffrey is a voice over actor who is surprised to find that he has been made the executor of his estranged best friend’s estate. They lost touch after she moved to Paris with her husband, but he graciously accepts the job and while going through Laura’s things he meets her good friend Marian. Marian is still in love with her husband, who died suddenly ten years ago, but has been in a long-term relationship. Geoffrey can’t stop thinking about Marian and the life Laura left behind.
When Geoffrey meets Laura, their conversation is intense, but when he starts talking about being passionately in love with her I was suddenly confused. He loves her? He only talked to her for a few minutes! I guess it was just so abrupt and bizarre. I thought this was going to be a meditative novel on grief, but it suddenly turned into the story of a man who pursues a woman who has expressly stated that she is totally uninterested in him.
I knew that there was a romance portion to the novel, but I wasn’t expecting it to take front and center and so quickly. While I was somewhat interested in seeing how their romance eventually played out, it also made me a little bit uncomfortable. Marian is a woman who is dealing with a lot of grief. After knowing her for approximately a week, Geoffrey goes to her house and tells her that a) he is in love with her, b) her long-term boyfriend is in love with her, but she will never be in love with him and c) they were meant to be together. I’m sorry, but if someone told me that after knowing me for a week? I would run in the other direction.
Apart from the romance being unbelievable, the first person narrative with long chunks of dialogue frustrated me. There are monologues that are two pages long in some cases and conversations that are nothing but sentence after sentence of dialogue for pages. I don’t expect written language to do anything but resemble speech, but I don’t want to be completely taken out of the story every time I read a conversation in the novel because it seems impossible.
There were moments that made me want to keep reading. Marian is a gardener and there is a scene where she describes the early summer garden to Geoffrey. I loved the descriptions and how passionate Marian was about her craft. I’m starved for spring and this was a perfect escape from the cold winter weather outside. I was also intrigued by how the story would play out, but unfortunately, not enough to overcome the negatives.
I wasn’t the reader for The First Warm Evening of the Year, but I know that what might be a deal breaker for me would be a mild annoyance to another reader. If you can suspend your disbelief about the romance, I think you might be very intrigued by the plot of The First Warm Evening of the Year and enjoy some wonderful descriptions of New York at spring time.
I received a copy of The First Warm Evening of the Year for review from TLC Book Tours. You can learn more about this tour, including other tour stops, here.