The Last of Her Kind

The Last of Her Kind

by Sigrid Nunez

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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: 68,417
File size: 547 KB

About the Author

Sigrid Nunez's novel For Rouenna was 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.

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.

Reading Group Guide

About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about The Last of Her Kind are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach The Last of Her Kind.

Customer Reviews

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Last of Her Kind 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
ennie on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The author was a year ahead of me at Barnard and perfectly captures the mood of those times (I'd forgotten how we called the row of basement vending machines "fat alley"). Georgette and Ann are roommates, with George wanting to overcome her less-than-privileged background and Ann ashamed of her privileged one. The story moves to hippies, murder and jail, with a detour to an older-man relationship that made me go "ewww".
Periodista on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Nunez is at her best describing the college years of two roommates in the 1960s. Different classes, annoying rich girl that's going to change the world, etc. I don't have much interest in this class in this period (done to death much?), so it's a wonder I got as far as I did. It says something about the quality of Nunez's writing. But by the time of Ann's cop killing and the unbelievable defense and set-up, I gave up a full reading and just skipped to the end parts. Life is too short.We're supposed to believe that in mid-1970s New York City, an inter-racial relationship between two school teachers would be so tension filled that seeing a pair of cops (there are only white cops in NYC, btw?) approach her black boyfriend ... it was a rational response to pick up a nearby gun (hey, who doesn't have one in this period? in this neighborhood?) and peg off the copy. Otherwise, the cop naturally would have killed the guy.Inter-racial relationships in 1970s New York City is something I can speak of with authority: nobody gave a damn. Maybe they did in the 1950s or 1960s, I don't know. Attitudes and times change quickly, especially in big cites.The entire set-up with the cops was preposterous too. Sure, cops do brutal things when they're under a lot of pressure, when they can get away with it, at the end of a long scary night ... but, let's see, in the middle of a street in broad daylight--when a guy is just wobbling around on a motorbike? Ingrid, why not go out and talk with a few cops? Ride with them for a day (not even a night!). This is the kind of minor incident they confront a dozen times in a day, not the kind of encounter likely to provoke one to spew epithets. Remember, we're supposed to believe that Ann never lies.This depiction reflected the narrowness of Nunez's knowledge and experiences.Also, as another reviewer suggested, what's the purpose of Georgette's romance with Ann's father? Just too icky.
chrystal on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I felt like I was living in the 60's- I have never had a good understanding of that era- my parents time- and this book brought it to life for me in a way that I found fascinating. Strong female characters and great plot- I did not like the ending letter from the woman in prison, it didn't seem to fit ....
silviastraka on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book really spoke deeply to me through the character of Ann. The first question it raised was: How can someone from an affluent background be a social justice activist? The book revealed all the contradictions inherent in this question. Ann was so offensive at times, especially at the beginning (e.g., wanting a room mate as different from her as possible and being disappointed that George wasn't Black). Also, she wished she had lived George's life, not realizing that if she actually had, she would really wish her life were different. At the same time, Ann's authenticity unfolds during the book and she won me over, but in a very uneasy kind of way. She was so extreme, especially later in the story, that I almost thought she had a mental illness at times. But then I realized that many people who change the world are very extreme and obsessed -- often not healthy, balanced human beings. So there was a real tension in her extremism and it made me extremely uncomfortable, but I also couldn't quite dismiss the necessity of it for Ann.George was a great character, too. Her closeness and then great distance from Ann helped me to understand Ann better. I saw how Ann was alienated from both her own class and the people she was wanting to support. But George made me realize that throughout everything, Ann was being utterly authentic.Does that excuse all her behaviour? I don't know. Maybe the bottom line is that I'm left "not knowing" whether to admire Ann or not, whether to think she's a hero or not... and that made it a great book for me. The uneasiness I'm left with is still bubbling inside me, seeking a resolution that may never be really possible.
apartmentcarpet on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A story of two college roommates in the 60's whose lives take very different paths. It's an interesting look at a turbulent time in history through the eyes of different people. One of the women came from privilege and renounced it. The other worked her way up from a poor family. This is what chick lit would be if it grew up and went to college and got an English degree.
paisley1974 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was nice to read a less romanticized account of the politicized sixties. Here, rape and violent Weathermen-like political groups are intertwined with heroin addiction. For all of that, it is not a depressing read--this background instead gives the book a feeling of true emotional honesty.
claudiabowman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this frank slice of life story about my parents' generation. I think it was very smart to have someone else telling Ann's story, if that makes sense. The ending was weak, however, and there were places where the round-about telling got irritating. Overall though, I would recommend it.
plenilune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite nearly 400 pages from her point-of-view, I still don't feel like I know Georgette, the narrator of this novel. While she served as a good narrator for college roommate Ann's story, I don't feel she served her own anywhere near as well. The most interesting thing about her own life were her relationships with Ann and her sister Solange.The writing itself was rich with historical detail, with some beautiful turns of phrase scattered throughout. However, the transitions were choppy, some aspects of the story felt forced, and I found the brief switch to 3rd person narration near the end unnecessary.Overall worth reading, but I wasn't blown away. It was easy to get into this book and the story made you want to know how it ended. Still, I felt as though Georgette was holding back, about herself anyway, for most of the novel, and that made it difficult for me to care much about her.
Ibreak4books on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good read about growing up female, poor and intelligent in 1960s New York City, and an honest look at what it means to be a liberal, what it means to be emotionally dishonest, and what it means to be the object of someone's charity. Sort of falls apart in the end, but otherwise great.
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.