Her Last Affair by John Searles
Published by Mariner Books ISBN 9780060779672
Trade paperback, $18, 336 pages
Skyla is a widow who lost her sight shortly after she lost her husband of nearly fifty years in a freak accident. She is looking for a tenant to rent the cottage on her property, right next her own identical cottage on the grounds of the abandoned drive-in theater her husband’s family ran for years.
Brit Teddy Cornwell shows up to rent the cottage, and he and Skyla hit it off immediately. Teddy loves this “brilliant stitch of Americana” and laughs at the only question Skyla asks him - “Have you ever been in love?” She asks nothing about his references or financial situation, just a question about love.
Teddy shares the story of his first love, Linelle, how he loved her more than anyone in his life, even more than his ex-wife. Skyla encourages Teddy to look her up, which he does, tracking Linelle down on Facebook. Linelle is receptive to meeting up with Teddy after all these years since her marriage is unhappy and her life seems to be falling apart.
Jeremy is an unsuccessful writer in New York City, about to be evicted from his apartment when he gets an assignment to write a restaurant review in his hometown of Providence. He returns home and recalls the woman he fell in love with year ago, the woman who broke his heart. Maybe he should look her up.
No one in Her Last Affair is exactly who they seem. Why did Skyla lose her job as a nurse years ago? Why is Teddy hiding out in a cottage on an abandoned drive-in? How Searles weaves the stories of these fascinating, lovelorn characters together is nothing short of brilliant, and I loved his use of movie quotes to open each chapter with insight into what is coming next.
Her Last Affair is a book that builds the suspense with each turn of the page. The twist that Searles throws in will have you gasping as I did. The drive-in setting is perfect, as this is a book that screams to be turned into a movie.
I attended a terrific book discussion for Her Last Affair with John Searles and Amy Ryan and you can read all about it here.