The Last of Her Kind: A Novel

The Last of Her Kind: A Novel

3.9 11
by Sigrid Nunez
     
 

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The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshmen on the Columbia campus in 1968. Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. She is mortified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself

Overview

The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshmen on the Columbia campus in 1968. Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. She is mortified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself is hoping college will enable her to escape. After the violent fight that ends their friendship, Georgette wants only to forget Ann and to turn her attention to the troubled runaway kid sister who has reappeared after years on the road. Then, in 1976, Ann is convicted of murder. At first, Ann's fate appears to be the inevitable outcome of her belief in the moral imperative to "make justice" in a world where "there are no innocent white people." But, searching for answers to the riddle of this friend of her youth, Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work. As the novel's narrator, Georgette illuminates the terrifying life of this difficult, doomed woman, and in the process discovers how much their early encounter has determined her own path, and why, decades later, as she tells us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429944977
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
12/12/2006
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
900,937
File size:
416 KB

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez. Copyright © 2006 by Sigrid Nunez. Published January 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

We had been living together for about a week when my roommate told me she had asked specifically to be paired with a girl from a world as different as possible from her own.

She did not want a roommate from the same privileged world in which she had been raised, she said. She did not want a roommate who had been raised, as she had been (but this was my thought, not hers), to believe you could make this kind of special request and expect it would be granted. I, for example, would never have believed that I could have had any say in my choice of roommates. I did remember receiving some forms from the college housing office that summer, and answering such questions as "Do you mind rooming with a smoker?" But that I could have filled the blank half page under Comments with something like "I want a roommate from this or that background" would never have occurred to me. No, I wrote. I did not mind rooming with a smoker, even though I was not a smoker myself. I had no preferences of any kind. I was completely flexible. Though I had done well in high school, I had never taken it for granted that I would go to college: no one in my family had done so before me. That I had managed to get into not just any college but a good one remained a little overwhelming. I left the space under Comments blank. I had no comment to write unless it was to say thank you, thank you for accepting me, and when my roommate told me what she had done, it brought me up sharp. How exactly had she phrased it? What words had she used to describe me?

* * *

It was 1968. "Your roommate will be Dooley Drayton," someone from the school had written me later that summer. "Miss Drayton is from Connecticut." But one of the many changes she made soon after arriving on campus was her name. She would no longer go by the name Dooley she said. It stank of bourgeois affectation. And worse. Dooley was a family name, and the part of her family that had borne the name, somewhere on her mother's side, had been from the South, she said, and were descended from plantation owners. In other words, slaveholders. So "Dooley" was out of the question. We were never to call her by that shameful name but rather by her middle name, the taintless "Ann."

Her father was the head of a firm that produced surgical instruments and equipment, a business that had been in Drayton hands for some generations (before that they were barbers, Ann told me, and this was true and not the joke I at first took it to be), and the family owned several valuable patents. Her mother did not work, she had never worked, though she'd had a good education. She, too, was from a prominent family, older and more distinguished if less prosperous than the Draytons, and she was an alumna of our school.

"She's one of those women," Ann said. "You know: she belongs to all these clubs and sits on all these boards, she goes to a lot of benefits and parties, and when she throws a party herself, it gets written up in the paper."

I did not know any woman like that.

Meet the Author

Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel is For Rouenna, a 2001 New York Times Notable Book. She has been the recipient of several awards, including a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York.


Sigrid Nunez is the author of the novels A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind and For Rouenna. She has received several awards, including a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York City.

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Last of Her Kind 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nunez's depiction of adolescence is so poignant and accurate. She creates such intimacy with her her characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful, raw, startlingly honest book. Feels like time travel to a much romanticized time- but looked at through clear- but never jaded, appreciative- but never idealizing, eyes- This book deserves more attention than it seems to have received.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
read a few months ago and only remember I was not that impressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was absolutely stunning - the prose was beautiful, the characters were complex, and the 'great love' of George was heartwrenching.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was incredibly difficult to follow. I found myself reading and re-reading sections. I also felt like a connection with the characters was never really made. Overall,this book was not as good as the reviews made it out to be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are many problems with this book. For one, the author jumps around a lot, dropping characters and plot lines as she goes. More important was that I never really felt that I knew George: what was important to her? how did the important events in her life play out? As for Ann, she seemed wooden and her sentiments sounded like platitudes. I knew all about her ideology but I never felt that the author made her a 3-dimensional character.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms.Nunez captured the historical,social fabric of the sixties,she developed characters who were complicated, people who could not be easily loved, but who I wanted to know more, and understand. I felt the last part of the book fell apart ,and felt the author took us on too long of a journey with the prison scenes..became annoyed at the attempt to be so clever. Overall, it was a good book, not great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The depth of character writing in this novel is what propelled me to keep reading. Weren't we all a little nervous about going to college and discovering who the roommate would be? I admired the two central characters for different reasons. Each has nuances that are familiar, fascinating and fabulous!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully written book that brings anyone who lived in the unbelievable 60's right back into that time. The lives of Ann and George, so opposite, are yet so compelling. I felt it was like a historical novel of the times and made me laugh, cry, and reminisce about my own college friends, campus life and dreams attained and lost. I would recommend this book for everyone but expecially those who lived in the wonderfully idealistic decade of the 60's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story here is deep and full of richness. It follows two women during the time of the unrest of the 60's and how their lives unfold. You see innocence, greed, envy, pain, and growth. While it is diluted in some parts, it is moving and takes you into the mind of women and how they feel about their lives and those around them. While it is said we should always listen to our 'inner voice' this is a journey where that is clearly not the credo.