BN.com Gift Guide
Customer Reviews for

Where or When

Average Rating 3.5
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

i was attracted to the book merely from its description and once i began to read i couldnt put it down. the book definitely raises questions about the extent a person or persons will go for the sake of love, even if it means unjustly hurting those around them. i think t...
i was attracted to the book merely from its description and once i began to read i couldnt put it down. the book definitely raises questions about the extent a person or persons will go for the sake of love, even if it means unjustly hurting those around them. i think that to say at 14 you cant have a love that sticks with you can only be made by someone who hasnt had the kind of love these characters shared. if you have ever had a piece of TRUE love, a very rare thing in this world, then you get it. if not, then its just another love story. i am very confused by the ending however. i dont completely understand where things were left. too much is left unsaid that i find myself disappointed. the story was so built up that i found the ending to be very unsatisfying. im still glad i read it, but i wish there were a few more chapters!

posted by Anonymous on July 14, 2007

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Unlikable Characters, a Cautionary Tale

While I have enjoyed every Anita Shreve novel I've laid my hands on to date, this one is the first that left me feeling flat. My feeling was that these people weren't really so much in love with each other as grasping at some kind of straw of hope for themselves out of...
While I have enjoyed every Anita Shreve novel I've laid my hands on to date, this one is the first that left me feeling flat. My feeling was that these people weren't really so much in love with each other as grasping at some kind of straw of hope for themselves out of desperation. Charles is in a financial mess and on the brink of foreclosure, standing to lose both his business and his home. His marriage lacks passion, but the few irritants he can claim about his wife (she rarely puts on music for herself to enjoy while he listens to music all the time she sets goals each day and accomplishes them while he spends a lot of time just staring out at the ocean) are hardly worth mentioning. Even without the affair, he comes across as a selfish boor, not bothering to include her in his risky financial decisions that got them where they are, or even filling her in on the serious state they were in. Did it even occur to him that she might offer to go back to work to help out??? Suddenly he stumbles on a picture of a woman he met and fell in love with when he went to a summer camp for a week 31 years earlier (at the age of 14 no less!) and he's ready to throw his family aside and run off with her. Sian was a little more sympathetic a character, but again, I felt she was not so much in love as trying to grab onto something to make her forget her sad empty life. Her marriage is also dead or dying, she and her husband staying together seemingly out of a shared sorrow of losing their young son at the age of nine. Her future on a failing onion farm with an emotionally distant husband seems bleak. The fact that neither Charles nor Sian ever made the effort to reconnect as young adults makes it hard to believe that this 'romance' was born from memories of a lost true love, but rather one fabricated out of desperation. One wonders if Charles were in a good situation financially if he would have reacted differently to seeing Sian's picture after all those years. That he hadn't thought about her in years is telling. Several people's lives get ruined because of their obsession, and all along they know this will happen. Selfish, pitiful people. Give me some characters I can like!

posted by Anonymous on August 20, 2007

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Wow

    I have a hard time with reviewers who balk at 14 year old true love. I met my soul mate at 14. Im 38 now, so believe me when I tell you it was love. I have lived the difference.

    With that being said, I felt for these characters from the beginning. The loveless marriages made out of convenience or some sense of responsibility, some preconcieved notion of what is right or wrong, what is acceptable versus forbidden behaviour. I gripped all of that in this book.

    The ending, however, left me heartbroken and unfulfilled. I sat in about 10 minutes of stunned silence when I finished.

    I give it 4 stars instead of 3 because I enjoyed the writitng style. The back and forth between 14 year old innocent love and 45 year old very complicated love.

    Because of the ending, I am cautious of reading this author again. If you are looking for an HEA, this is not your book. If you like the pain of unrequited love, by all means, enjoy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    i was attracted to the book merely from its description and once i began to read i couldnt put it down. the book definitely raises questions about the extent a person or persons will go for the sake of love, even if it means unjustly hurting those around them. i think that to say at 14 you cant have a love that sticks with you can only be made by someone who hasnt had the kind of love these characters shared. if you have ever had a piece of TRUE love, a very rare thing in this world, then you get it. if not, then its just another love story. i am very confused by the ending however. i dont completely understand where things were left. too much is left unsaid that i find myself disappointed. the story was so built up that i found the ending to be very unsatisfying. im still glad i read it, but i wish there were a few more chapters!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    I thought this book was well written, but I didn't really buy th

    I thought this book was well written, but I didn't really buy the premise of the story - that these two characters who met for a week when they were fourteen could really, truly be in love. I didn't really buy that these two people were destined to be together. It seemed that both of them were merely trying to escape from their own unhappy lives, but instead it's written as this great love affair between two souls who missed their chance to be together.

    I actually liked the ending, and I suppose there's really no other way such a bleak story could have ended, though I would have liked a bit more of a denouement.

    A note on the Nook edition of this book: the editing was HORRIBLE. There were lots of typos, missing words and punctuation. If I'd realized this, I would probably not have bought it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Charles first saw Siân at summer camp thirty-one years ago, and

    Charles first saw Siân at summer camp thirty-one years ago, and he fell in love. He never really lost memory or longing of her, even though they never saw each other again after those few fateful, scorching weeks they spent together; so when he comes across her photograph serendipitously while flicking through a literary magazine, his world begins to spin in a new direction. He needs to see her. Forget the wife, forget the kids—he needs Sîan. His sinking business and financial security set the tone of this gloomy, cryptic novel; little does he know that they will mark his failure, as well as his downfall.

    I couldn't really get into this one because I couldn't connect with the characters. Each of them are most intimately portrayed by Shreve's dense, flowery prose, but they still seem too detached, too cold. The power of first love—and in that, the illusion of romanticized childhood—is expertly detailed upon, but emotionally, personally... Charles and Sîan are a let-down.

    I have mixed feelings about the writing style; on one hand, it's gorgeously crafted, but on the other, it's kind of rambly, descriptive in unnecessary places and too vague in others. There's a quaint perceptiveness in Shreve's penmanship that's both distant and generic; I liked this, but it hinders the story's progress, so overall Where or When was sort of difficult to read.

    The blithe bay setting, with brief flashes of Rhode Island and of east coast beaches, is nice. Nothing powerful, but definitely appropriate for the content and style: hazy, breezy, and static.

    Ah, but the ending—what in the world?? Unfulfilling, miserable, wretched thing! I like the take on the tragic ending, but the way the author decided to terminate the connection between the two lovers, not so much. I feel like there was a better path she could have taken, so the ending was what finally ruined the story for me.

    The affliction over an impossible love permeates throughout this book—from the first page, to the last. Even in the title, is a direct allusion: it's where or when, but never and, never both, which signifies how the self-serving motives and foolishly insatiable desires of the human heart will eventually lead to catastrophe.

    Pros: Intimacy between characters, and between characters and readers // Lush prose // Breezy east coast backdrop // Interesting storyline about childhood lovers

    Cons: Unmoving // Terrible ending // Style is syrupy; hard to read // Just didn't affect me in any which way

    Verdict: Where or When is a futile account of a mistaken love that consumes two very unhappy individuals. I say futile because there is nothing about it that's touching or engaging; it's just a flat story with flat characters, and I put it down having gained very little. It does however, contain Anita Shreve's exquisite prose, and well-interprets the tragedy of time, of timing. This wasn't a completely deplorable read, but I don't care for it much, and wouldn't recommend it.

    5 out of 10 hearts (3 stars): Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book.

    Source: Complimentary copy provided by TripFiction in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    Unlikable Characters, a Cautionary Tale

    While I have enjoyed every Anita Shreve novel I've laid my hands on to date, this one is the first that left me feeling flat. My feeling was that these people weren't really so much in love with each other as grasping at some kind of straw of hope for themselves out of desperation. Charles is in a financial mess and on the brink of foreclosure, standing to lose both his business and his home. His marriage lacks passion, but the few irritants he can claim about his wife (she rarely puts on music for herself to enjoy while he listens to music all the time she sets goals each day and accomplishes them while he spends a lot of time just staring out at the ocean) are hardly worth mentioning. Even without the affair, he comes across as a selfish boor, not bothering to include her in his risky financial decisions that got them where they are, or even filling her in on the serious state they were in. Did it even occur to him that she might offer to go back to work to help out??? Suddenly he stumbles on a picture of a woman he met and fell in love with when he went to a summer camp for a week 31 years earlier (at the age of 14 no less!) and he's ready to throw his family aside and run off with her. Sian was a little more sympathetic a character, but again, I felt she was not so much in love as trying to grab onto something to make her forget her sad empty life. Her marriage is also dead or dying, she and her husband staying together seemingly out of a shared sorrow of losing their young son at the age of nine. Her future on a failing onion farm with an emotionally distant husband seems bleak. The fact that neither Charles nor Sian ever made the effort to reconnect as young adults makes it hard to believe that this 'romance' was born from memories of a lost true love, but rather one fabricated out of desperation. One wonders if Charles were in a good situation financially if he would have reacted differently to seeing Sian's picture after all those years. That he hadn't thought about her in years is telling. Several people's lives get ruined because of their obsession, and all along they know this will happen. Selfish, pitiful people. Give me some characters I can like!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    Disappointment

    I couldn't wait to read this book -- the topic sounded fascinating! Who doesn't have daydreams about 'what if'? But the characters left me disappointed -- Charles, especially, was a bit on the pathetic side, a whiny baby. The subject itself would have been much better had the 14 year olds been older -- even 16 or 17. I don't recommend this book. Maybe once I get over my disappointment, I'll try another book by this author but I'll definitely read the reviews first.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2000

    Page turn novel

    Having read a number of Anita Shreve's novels, I really enjoyed this one the best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2000

    Page-turner from Beginning to End

    This book is so captivating and reaches every emotion a book possibly can. Anita takes writing love stories to another level. The surprise at the end is totally unexpected it makes you want to go back and read it again from the moment you finish. I strongly recommend this book!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 1999

    Dreamlike Desire

    Shreve takes you into a dream like state amd has you think about all your past loves and flirt with the idea of reconnecting. The glorious feeling of returning to a familiar place with a lover that has kept an idealized picture of you across all the years is tempered with the awlful destruction the affair has on all the families. The ending is unexpected but serves as a cautionary reminder of the consequences of playing with fire. I felt the dreamy sommulant nature of the writing made me feel the languid sensuality and increasing tension. I loved the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2014

    Couldn't put it down!

    *** Review contains NO spoilers ***

    I'd read a couple other books by this author and was not very impressed with the stories, though I did enjoy her writing style. I picked this book randomly at the library and didn't have very high hopes for it - then I was sucked into the plot because the situations presented are quite relatable.
    While I can't say I "liked" the ending, I thought it was a realistic view of how it could have happened if this were a true story. You know how it'll turn out, but hope for a last minute happily ever after.


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Our book club choose this book for our May meeting. I would not

    Our book club choose this book for our May meeting. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Very disappointing. Characters are not people you would want to know. Felt I wasted my time reading this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2009

    Somehow Hard to Believe

    The first thing I thought about when getting into this book was, "Come on.....a love affair from an encounter at camp when they were 14!?!?" Seemed a little hard to believe and could never really get beyond that throughout the whole book. Then there was the downhill spiral that was hard to stomach....the "love" the characters felt just seemed a little too obsessive, unrealistic, and self-destructive. So all in all, I'd say it was certainly an entertaining read, but not one that I would recommend or even remember years from now....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Anita does it again!

    Anita Shreve writes a love story of love "gone missing" and then found with all of its twists and turns. This is the story of a young boy and girl, Charles and Sian, their brief summer romance and the years between, and subsequent meeting again. Although its on "tricky" moral ground, (really, how much sympathy/empathy can you have for a couple intent on a full-blown affair), Anita draws you into their lives and leaves you gasping at the end. (And no, absolutely NOT, am I going to fess' up to how this one ends).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    UNFORGETABLE ROMANCE NEEDS SEQUEL

    Charles' and Sian's story was absolutely riveting! I couldn't put the book down. I'm begging you to please write a sequel to fix the rest of their lives! I've read tons of books, but have never had a story stay with me as long as this one has - after I finished reading it! I look forward to a comment about a sequel!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    it should have been better...

    The premise is great with one main fault,14 is a little young to base an everlasting romance on. If the romance was so hot then they should have sought each other out in their late teens. I felt the characters where very depressed and depressing. The extremes the characters took for one another after just a few weeks of reconnect is unbelievable. I would have found Charles to be a stalker if I received those letters after 31 years! Oh, and don't mail me your dirty shirt do your own laundry!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Big Dissapointment from Shreve

    I loved 'The Pilot's Wife'. I couldn't wait to read this book. I couldn't get into the characters..they were unbelievable and pathetic. They met at 14 and all of a sudden couldn't wait to meet again. I felt like Charles was stalking Sian..and his character seemed very unstable, not in love. I know the author was trying to make me feel bad for the two lovebirds, but I ended up feeling sorry for their seperate families they were destroying.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    Interesting Read

    I thought this book was very interesting. I couldn't put it down. I truly felt for the characters and the hopeless position they found themselves in. Like all of Shreve's other books, this is a definite page turner and you won't believe the ending.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2005

    From an Anita Shreve fan

    I've read all of her books and this one, among others, sticks with you. Shreve really gets to the core of the characters in this book. Charles is not pathetic but realistic. He is a man who knows he is about to lose everything and choses to cling to a woman from his past that could have made his present complete instead of lacking. The characters are real down to the nitty-gritty and I love them for that. Shreve has again blown us away with her poetic writing and wonderful imagination.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2004

    NOT SHREVE'S BEST WORK

    I've read several of Anita Shreve's novels and have never been disappointed until I read this one. If this is the first Shreve book you've read, give her another chance! Read Fortune's Rocks - you will not put it down. In Where or When, Charles is just a bit too pathetic. I think the downward spiral he allows himself to fall into with Sian is due to his sense of hopelessness about his life in general, not necessarily out of his love for Sian. I had a very hard time believing that two 45 year-olds would instantly fall into lust after 31 years of not knowing each other. And I also couldn't buy that they were basing this affair on the fact that they knew each other for one week as 14 year-olds. If their characters would have been 18-20 when they first met, it would have been far more plausible.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2003

    Read it with an open heart

    This is a story about obsession, hopelessness and despair. This is a story about Charles and Sian. A chance sighting of a photo of his first love awakes in him feeling and memories thought to have been deeply buried. Impulsively, he writes to her and set in motion a string of correspondences and the love affair that is to follow. Is it love they experience 30 years ago? What to do when the floodgate of memories has been broken through? Instead of swimming pass those memories, Charles sinks himself into them and temporary `forgets¿ his present life ¿ his wife, children and the financial crisis he¿s facing. Indeed, this book seems to want us to feel exactly what the two lovers felt -- ignore the sense of time and realities. Is it up to us to judge them? I guess not.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3