"A perfect summer read: entertainment that is at once highly intelligent and mildly edifying."Publishers Weekly
"[A] sparkling, smart new novel.... Time has not blunted the sharpness of her observational powers."The New York Times Book Review
America's leading comic novelist and a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Foreign Affairs, 1985), Alison Lurie is back with her first novel in ten years and 1998's hottest summer read. The Last Resort is "beach reading with brains and bite" (Kirkus Reviews) and is electrifying readers and critics around the country.
The book's title is a pun about Key West, the last dot of the Florida Keys, and also the suicide that character Wilkie Walker, a famous writer and naturalist, is grimly planning. At the novel's start, Jenny Walker, Wilkie's ultradevoted wife who's also 20 years his junior is at her wit's end. When she isn't doting on Wilkie, she is researching or editing his bestselling books and raising their children. Jenny has been largely content with this life until now.
As the cold New England winter approaches, Jenny knows she and Wilkie are in dire need of some sun. Hoping that a change of setting will instill new life into her languid companion, Jenny persuades Wilkie to rent a house in Key West for a short time. Literally and figuratively, it's their last resort.
Key West is not called the Last Resort for nothing. There lives can turn upside down, and even short-term visitors can have experiences they never imagined. Within weeks of their arrival, theWalkers'presence in Key West has caused quite a stir. Jenny not only has a part-time job but is becoming involved with an assortment of local characters, including Gerry, an ex-beatnik poet who proclaims his love to her; Lee, the owner of the B&B, whose attraction to her soon has Jenny tasting the delights of lesbian love; Jacko, their landlord, who is growing increasingly sick with AIDS; Barbie Mumpson, a drooling Wilkie fan and animal lover; and a score of others.
Meanwhile, Wilkie is planning his own "accidental" death by drowning a task that turns out to be much more difficult than he thought. Jenny, mistaking Wilkie's urge to die for his disinterest in her, and thinking he is having an affair, turns to Lee for love.
Witty, intelligent, and filled with a rich cast of characters encountering and overcoming a multitude of social and emotional issues, The Last Resort is a perfect evocation of Key West, and another dazzling demonstration of Alison Lurie's talent for high comedy and social comment. As The New York Times Book Review reports, "Lurie writes touchingly, and rather beautifully, about the sorrows of old age, the loss of loved ones, the indignities of physical frailty, the fear of time running out and of the nearness of death."