by Peter Golden
Washington Square Press
Pub. Date: April 3, 2012
Book received from: Publisher via JKS Book Tours
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ 1960s Fiction
Cover: Lovely- it is reminiscent of the cover of Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album
Characters: Beautifully captured
Worth the read? Yes- if you want a story about the one that got away
“I had an image of her sitting alone on a beach- a still life painted with the palette of summer, the streaks in her hair and her tanned face setting off the delicately sculpted symmetry of her features. It is an idyllic image, soulful, and yet unspeakably sad in its loneliness.”
Gordon Meyers found the love of his life in 1968 and had to let her go. Now, 35 years later, he finds her again to see if what he lost was real or just a romanticized memory. Shifting between that pivotal year and the present, cause Glenna and Gordon to see things through the knowing perspective of time. Now that they have an entire life lived, will they pick up where they left off, or will the scars of the past still prove too much?
Comeback Love is a beautifully written story about two people’s lives that happened to intersect for a given time. In that intersection, not only their lives changed, but the world around them as well. Glenna was a fighter for women’s rights, on the forefront of abortion reform at a tumultuous time, while Gordon was a writer who was trying to find his way and find something that was his. This is not just a story about an enduring love, but of embracing a changing world and holding on to one another as everything else falls away.
Golden is able to recreate the feeling of the 1960s without being overly dramatic and romanticizing the situation. He focuses quite a lot on the politics of abortion and women’s health rights within history without being overly political or losing the focus of the story at hand. He is able to intricately weave the happenings of the changing world with the personal changes of the characters. Issues of the Vietnam War, abortion reform, women’s lib, and a clash of generations are themes throughout the story- and are dealt with in a realistic and simple way. While Gordon is watching the draft lottery on television, he notes the following:
“There is something shocking about a TV’s images possessing such power over your life. Television was the kingdom of make-believe, homeland to the likes of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The colonel playing bingo with boys’ lives couldn’t possibly be real.”
One can easily see how surreal the time was in many ways, all the while knowing there was a palpable fear beneath it all.
What perhaps makes the story so relatable and engrossing is how real the characters are. Gordon is a quick-witted sarcastic guy that just never quite gets it right- complete with almost making it to Woodstock. Although, when he turned down a chance to go to a Hendrix concert, I wanted to go back in time and shake him a bit. Glenna is a strong female character that always goes a step farther than expected, but who seeks comfort in all the craziness. I am sure we would have been great friends- if she were real and I were alive then.
Although I loved the ending very much, I also found myself thinking it could so easily have ended differently. The alternate ending would have been a bit more real, but the ending given is certainly what one wishes for while reading. In the end, I am torn between reality and a fantastical love story- I want them both. I am not saying I would have changed the outcome, but simply am left wondering ‘what if?’.
The difference between a romance novel and romantic novel is that a romantic novel tells of the beauty behind the love story- not just of the passion within. With Comeback Love there is so much depth and beauty to the relationship of the two characters that it is impossible to not wish it will all work out. However, by the end, whether or not they get back together becomes somewhat unimportant. As they discover more about themselves and each other, it becomes clear some things must be left in the past in order to move on.
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‘Comeback Love’ can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.
For more about Peter Golden, go to his website here.