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Last Night at the Ritz
Elizabeth Savage
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Last Night at the Ritz

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  324 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Published (first published January 1st 1973)
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Kasa Cotugno
"There is no knowledge like the bitter knowledge of old loves." This sentence, appearing early in the novel, pretty much sums it up. The unnamed narrator has had a complicated relationship with her "best friend" Gay since they first met in college 30 years before. Their story is told in interior monologue formed of reminisces and flashbacks over the course of a day in which the two women meet at the Ritz in Boston, but this is a tricky novel and all is not as it first appears. As revelations dev...more
I really loved this. It practically zings with great lines and sly, perfectly formed observations about women's inner lives. It concerns two young women who met in college in the 60s and where life and love takes them. It delves into subjects like affairs and abortion in a pre-Roe v. Wade world. And it captures a truly interesting friendship between two women who love each other but hold their cards close to the chest.
I think I'd like to read this again. It's very cleverly written and I imagine I've missed things and it'd stand up to multiple readings.
I was in the mood for a classic type of literary fiction & so I finally got to this on my Kindle. I'm very glad that I did. Our narrator is unnamed & not wholly reliable but she has a wit & way about her that really makes the story. She & her married friends Gay & Len are boozing it up one "last" time & as the drinks flow, so do some not so pretty truths & long held secrets about each of them. At just over the midpoint I was getting a little bored of her tangents &...more
Initially, I wasn't captivated by this book. I found the narrator annoying and judgmental, always condescending about her friend Gay's good qualities. But as the story continued I became attached to all the characters and missed them when I wasn't reading.

I loved the organization of the story. Plot wise, we're tagging along on a progressive party with some friends who are meeting up in Boston while they're all in town. They have drinks at one place, move on to dinner at another and wrap up elsew...more
Mar 10, 2013 Simone rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I have no idea how to explain this book. It’s about everything and nothing. A woman and her friends go out for drinks and dinner and through flashbacks we learn about her life.

Sounds boring put that way, but it wasn’t! I liked this woman very much and “enjoyed her company” so to speak. I also enjoyed the fact that it was set in Boston – I went for the first time last December and really enjoyed it; since it’s still fresh in my mind it was easy to picture the story… never mind that it’s set in t...more
I have been intrigued by this book for some time but had ther things to read, so left it on the back burner, so to speak, and now, having ploughed through it a feel disappointed and ever so slightly cheated.

Firstly I will say it is well written; I do like Savage's style, her use of prose and the almost nonchalant way she throws down a surprise. She manages to evoke a certain atmosphere that I found really pleasing. The narrator, who remains unnamed throughout, has arranged to celebrate her birth...more
“It is very dangerous to get caught without something to read.” So says our very gin soaked narrator who you can either trust or not, she won't care. She is beyond caring. By the time you have decided in this slim novel that maybe you don't really like her, a slow revelation hits and then you don't want to say good bye. I'd love to have been her friend, even with her faults. I'd love to have been her friends' friend about whom she has much to tell.
A real gem. I've just finished it, I need a break to think it over, and for sure I need to read it again, this book should to be sliced idea by idea, I feel I've rushed through it and I must go back to be able to put the right feelings and thoughts in the right drawers.

Nora Gaskin Esthimer
I am stingy with the fifth star, and this book is why. I loved the characters and how they are revealed and I loved the story and how it is revealed. I am glad I stumbled onto Nancy Pearl's list, Book Lust Rediscoveries. I'll be working my way through that list.
Great writing, great character development, in a completely convincing voice. A book and author I never heard of, but I was completely sold.
This is a book about friendship and relationships, and it's a wonderful read. Maria will love it, I think!
I very much enjoyed listening to this wonderful book brought back into print by Nancy Pearl.
I really enjoyed this book about a friendship between two women that started in college in the 1940s. The book is generally set in the lat 60s when the women meet for lunch at the Ritz, but the book travels back in time through the narrator's reminiscences. I have weakness for snappy 1940s dialogue and the innocent yet also surprisingly racy hi-jinks the college women got up to at the time. This is also a beautiful portrait of a long friendship. It's a little like Mary McCarthy's The Group, but...more
Michael Armijo
Well, I finally finished this book last night (May 14, 2014).

I came across it only because I was playing Words With Friends (a sort of scrabble game) with a longtime school friend, Marjorie Darrow. We had to use words that were in book titles. I used the word ‘RITZ’ and I found THE LAST NIGHT AT THE RITZ by Elizabeth Savage when I did an search. I bought the book and now I’m finished.

I wouldn’t highly recommend it. It has some pros and cons. The story revolves around three friends w...more
Sherry Schwabacher
A fabulous slice of interior life. Don't expect action - the narrator herself, describing an early attempt at writing fiction, says "... I thought that if you got a whole bunch of characters that far along {two-thirds into the book} they were bound to finish up by themselves, just as they would in real life. What I didn't understand was that in real life people seldom die or fail or triumph at the right time, and that they almost never coordinate their ends with those of others. So that if you j...more
Finally! Librarian Linda Pearl and I agree on something! “Last Night at the Ritz” is part of the Linda Pearl Presents A Book Lust Rediscovery. I haven’t enjoyed the “Rediscoveries” as much as out-of-print novels published elsewhere (like from the friendly folks at Pomegranate, or Bloomsbury Group.) And Pearl’s reviews of books I’ve enjoyed have been snarky at best. Still, we do agree on this one. I some ways, it reminds me Jacqueline Susanne’s “Valley of the Dolls,” as you’ve got women growing o...more
The narrator of this interesting novel is never named and that makes her all the more mysterious and untrustworthy. The last night referred to in the title of the novel is a visit to the Ritz hotel in Boston by three long time friends – Len, Gay and the narrator herself. Len and Gay are married and the narrator’s husband is not present though a friend of hers appears in a carefully stage managed accidental meeting. But it is not the evening itself which takes up most of the book but the narrator...more
"It is very dangerous to get caught without something to read." The Last Night at the Ritz is one of the Nancy Pearl book lust rediscovery series of older books, recently brought back to life and print. this was a great book. my copy is covered with highlighted sections which I hope to go back to and reread over and over again.
Elizabeth Savage wrote the book in the early 1970s and the events of The Last night occur a few years earlier in the late 1960s. the narrator tells the story of her long...more
I enjoy listening to Nancy Pearl on NPR and this book is one of her Book Lust selections of rediscovered works. Originally published in 1973, Last Night at the Ritz takes place in one day as four friends who met in college meet for drinks at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and that meeting continues through the afternoon, for dinner, and beyond. The unnamed narrator has had a long relationship with Gay, her college roommate, and twenty-five years later they still are best friends with all that entail...more
It was very tempting to give this one 5 stars. I don't give 5 stars lightly so I didn't do it for this one. However, I really, really enjoyed this one.

It isn't only the "plot", which some argue doesn't exist. It isn't the time period, although I felt it was a very good rendition of the early 70's. It isn't the setting, which was mainly Boston and done quite well, at least in terms of describing the layout of the city around the Commons and the State House and the surrounding businesses.

I think o...more
Have you heard about Nancy Pearl's "Book Lust Rediscoveries"? She inked a deal last year with Amazon to republish some of her favorite out-of-print books. By my count, there are nine so far (the plan was to publish six a year), and each has an introduction explaining her reasons for republishing it.

Last Night at the Ritz was my first Book Lust Rediscovery. Originally published in the early 1970s and set in the late 1960s, it's not a novel I would have been likely to find on my own. I purchased i...more
A 95-year old friend in this retirement facility recently read this 1973 novel five times. He found it rich, much local color -- actually of the locale exactly where my wife grew up and where we courted in the 1950s. He wondered what we thought of the simple mystery that puzzled him. So we bought the book (paper, please, never for a Nook or Kindle), excited to read this tale of our own younger days.

Savage early lived in Maine, and seems to have modeled her fictional college (near the Kennebec R...more
Nov 03, 2012 Meade rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: prime

This is one of the Nancy Pearl Book Lust Rediscovery series, and it is well worth being back in print. The story was fine, though the ending was a little weak. But the thing that shone about this book was the clever turns of phrase and sheer number of quotable lines. From the more whimsical - "I didn't think I needed a nap, but in the first half hour after lunch one is never absolutely sure." - to the passages that put human emotion so beautifully into words - "At seventeen, Charley didn't beli...more
Compared to her straitlaced best friend Gay, the narrator is a rule-breaker, an alcoholic and a fingers-crossed rationalizer. I loved her cheeky dialog, her foggy guilt, her instinct for survival and her determination to have some fun despite a trail of crumby relationships. The novel is a Boston rendezvous of 50-somethings in the late 1960s, laced with anecdotes and delightful idioms of their pre-WWII co-ed years.
I almost stopped reading around page 50. I couldn't "get" the narrator. But I kept going and I began to be intrigued by her observations. By the final 100 pages I couldn't put the book down. The ending stunned me. I almost want to start reading it all over again.

The writing is amazing. This book is not an easy read, but it is definitely worthwhile.
Such a beautifully written novel, and what compelling characters. I was enamored with the cast of characters, particularly since a large part of the narrative was a love story to friendship. Loved it the whole way through, but thought the ending was somewhat weak and vague, in a way that none of the rest of the narrative was. So that seemed odd to me, but on the whole, I'm beyond glad I bought this on a whim.
"It is very dangerous to get caught without something to read." 3.5. The main appeal of this novel is the savagely funny narrator, a woman whose quips and highlight-worthy remarks occur at least once a page. A small group of old friends from college has gathered together in Boston to drink at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. With flashbacks and witty observations, this books speeds along.
A charming, rambling story told by a sloshed narrator who is never named. She recalls her long friendship with college roommate Gay, whom she is meeting up with at the Ritz in the present (late 60's). I liked it, but it was a little too rambling for me. It gave me a craving for gin, which rarely happens.
Natalie Laufer
Really beautiful

Really beautiful

And unexpectedly so. Classic, dignified prose. She should be considered one of our major U.S. post mid-century voices. A stunning read.
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