Forty-something Geoffrey Tremont thought he was settled in his life in New York City--he has friends, a successful career doing voice-over spots and a relationship with a woman who offers him companionship. But then Tremont is notified that he has been named the executor of a will for a college friend, Laura Wells, he hasn't seen in 20 years. He sets off to reconcile her estate in Shady Grove, a small town upstate, and his life is suddenly upended. He falls for Marian Ballantine, a dear friend of the departed--it's love at first sight, for a woman living in a perpetual state of mourning since her husband's death and stuck in a repressed relationship of her own.
In The First Warm Evening of the Year, Jamie M. Saul (Light of Day) has written an emotionally evocative novel about death (literal and figurative), the nature of grief, passion, self-knowledge and the complexities of love. Laura's passing assembles a cast of deeply drawn supporting characters forced to examine their intimate associations--or lack thereof. Sometimes people settle and use substitutes for cultivating more substantial relationships in their lives. But as one character remarks when considering the risks of love despite the consequences of heartbreak, "What's the point of having a heart, if you're not going to use it?" Those in this absorbing, beautifully written novel ultimately discover that sometimes love is not a choice, but rather a matter of having no choice. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines