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Where or When

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3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  4,966 ratings  ·  430 reviews
What would you do if out of the blue, you received a letter from your first love? Siân Richards sees no reason why she can't write back to Charles Callahan. After all, it's been thirty years and they are both married with families. But when they decide to meet again, an innocent correspondence becomes a dangerous intimacy. Swept up in the past and consumed by an obsessive ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kelly
I have to put this one in the 'Hated it' category. It's truly one of the most terrible books I've ever read with the most selfish characters imaginable. It's about a couple who reunites after only knowing each other after meeting in a summer camp when they were 12. Supposedly, they "fell in love", but their continued love story which knows no bounds, not even the bonds of marriage, and is less about love and more about lust. You'll find more smut than the worst Harlequinn novel between the pages ...more
Patrick
I love this book because it interposes the akward innocence of deep young love with the carnality of mature love. The book is summed up in this quote: "Was there, or could there ever be, he wondered then, and wonders now, a reconciliation between innocence and sexuality?" It does this by intertwining present day sex sessions with flashbacks to the intensity of young adolescent love in which every gesture and touch meant something.

The book is about old innocent first lovers who meet again 31 yea
...more
Erin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
Ok, first, they were 14, not 12. If you don't believe a person can fall in love at 14, don't bother reading this, or "Romeo and Juliet," either. Second, some of the sex scenes were graphic, but it was not "smutty" and nothing like a Harlequin novel. Anita Shreve is a gifted writer, regardless of whether you personally like her characters. Third, who reads fiction for moral guidance? It's a novel, about fictional--and flawed--characters, not a self-help book.

I found the descriptions of the chara
...more
Linsey
I'm not really sure how to rate this book. While it was good and I had to finish it to see how it ended, I was repulsed by the story also. The writing style was a little different than what I was used to and it took a little while to figure out who's point of view you were reading. Like I said before, the story was compelling and kept you going, but at the same time, I was repulsed by the story. I think it was the fact that I didn't agree with what they were doing and felt like you have to be ol ...more
Mirvan  Ereon
Despite what other people said, I really liked this book. it was well-written and the story was very intriguing. Young love, coming-of-age, reunion and infidelity, things I love to read in a novel every day. Besides, this book is so dear in my heart for it discusses first love, losing it and then finding it back again after years of waiting and almost forgetting that there was still a person out there who still remembers you. Maybe this book gave me some hope that this could also happen to me. W ...more
JANET
THE MOST I COULD SAY ABOUT THIS BOOK IN GENERAL IS: "IT WAS OK". ALTHOUGH I READ IT FAST IN TWO DAYS, THERE WERE A LOT OF DETAILS THAT DID NOT FIT. THIS MAN COULD NOT PROVIDE A LIVING FOR HIS FAMILY, AND KEPT SPENDING MONEY ON TRAVELING TO MEET HER, HOTEL ETC. HE ALWAYS SAID IT WAS A BUSINESS TRIP BUT NEVER PRODUCED ANY MONEY. MORE THINGS KEPT BEING ADDED TO THEIR PAST RELATIONSHIP THAT NO LONGER FITTED WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IN A WEEK AT CAMP WITH TWO FOURTEEN YEAR OLDS.
I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THE END
...more
Kirsten
Anita Shreve is my favorite author but this book was horrible. I hated the main characters, I hated the premise and found it totally unbelievable. They met for one week at summer camp when they were twelve? And fell in LOVE? And now, in their adulthood, they are going to leave their spouses to be together? It just really didn't do it for me.
Jennifer
I usually enjoy Anita Shreve quite a bit. This story was a sad story as well as repulsing. I just can't stand how selfish humans can be. This was not Shreve's best book.
Shonreichon Yoyo
The sad thing about this book is that it is not believable at all. And it's not in the fantasy genre, so no excuses. I'm a romantic to the core, but I highly doubt that these two very immatured people found love at the age of 14, and that too in a week's time. Uh huh, I'm not buying that! More like lust, if you ask me.

Charles comes across to me as an irresponsible, deranged man who just wants to escape from his financial troubles. Also, it's quite amazing how he is broke, but he magically alway
...more
Susan Espourteille
I have to say I am shocked by all the negative reviews of this book. I found it phenomenal, a tour de force of love, lust, destiny and confusion. I saw the ending coming almost from the very beginning, yet I was compelled to read on, compelled to find out how they reached the inevitable train wreck.

I'm not sure why many people dislike books simply because they dislike, or cannot relate to the characters. Many masterpieces of literature have despicable characters; the story and its denouement a
...more
Judith
I have so many conflicting feelings about this book that I really hesitate to presume to write a review. In the first place: this is such a childish plot, it's more like a Nicholas Sparks book. Two people meet 30 years after they fell in love at camp and spent only one week together when they were age 14. Who does that in real life?!

In the second place, this book is really an anachronism because so much of the communication is based on desperate letters sent by overnight mail and phone calls mad
...more
Tifnie
I normally enjoy reading books by Anita Shreve, however, this book was nothing like her other books in not only the style of which it was written but also it's contexts.

Where or When is about 2 people who met at camp when they were in their late teens. They fell in love during that week and then they both went on to live their seperate lives. Fast forward 31 years and they meet again, fall back in love and start an illicit affair - both are married with children.

I had great difficulty reading t
...more
Michael Graeme
I haven't read anything by Anita Shreve before. Not sure if this was written for a predominantly female or male readership, but as a guy I found sufficient depth, sensitivity, and insight into the middle aged male psyche here to send shivers down my spine. Published in the early nineties, the subtext of the story is one of financial decline, depression, businesses closing,... therefore every bit as relevant now in 2011 as it was back then.

The male and female leads here are middle aged, both marr
...more
Denise
Guess I'm not a hopeless romantic. This book was a little too sappy for me. To me, the love of your life is the one with whom you weather all of life's storms and sunny days, not the person to whom you were physically attracted during one week of your childhood. Total destruction and devastation were the result of the betrayal and selfishness that came from chasing a dream that was probably too good to be true in the long haul.
Jessica
Awful book about two adulterous scum. Had I known that was what this book was about, I would have never picked it up. I did read the entire thing, but simply to learn something of why these types of people think as they do - abandoning a real life - a spouse and children to have a little fun. Waste of a life. Waste of a book.
Jen
2 stars because I just positively love the style of this author but eek the plot was so sad and wrong. Great example of how wickedness never was happiness. I had to skip several paragraphs throughout because of the explicitness. But I do love the author's style and enjoyed a few of her other books.
Alison
This is the second Anita Shreve book I have read and I found it very similar to the other (The Last Time They Met). Both had middle-aged people reuniting with their one true love from their youth. Both had dramatic endings - though this one did not match the astonishing ending of The Last Time They Met. And both I found to be faintly wishy-washy in the first part, an almost dreamlike quality appearing in the writing with lots of atmospheric language. The second half picked up and went hurtling t ...more
Casey Hays
A picture in a news advertisement; the "innocent" exchange of a few letters; an aranged meeting after 31 years, and lives are changed forever. Where or When is one of those disturbing stories that some of us have magically lived, some of us have longingly wished for, and some of us are grateful to have never experienced. Throughout, readers ride on a wave of emotions that range from heart-wrenching sympathy to sensual excitement to overwhelming disgust. It's a story that deeply loves, breaks hea ...more
Liz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
TheMadHatter
I expected not to like this book (given the adulterous subject matter) but I actually enjoyed it and felt the reality of the situation in the writing. Ms Shreve has a writing style that I love reading and she has such a way of creating characters that are so real in their flaws and thoughts that you feel that this is not a work of fiction. She adds different media into her story either through adding newspaper articles and research papers (which she did in strange fits of passion) and letters be ...more
Ginnie Leiner
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Louise
Anita Shreve is quite the story teller. The concept of a long ago love coming back into your life after 31 years sounds much too delicious. Yes, some of the story just didn't add up, like how could a broke guy afford hotel rooms and such, but the gist of the story was so compelling, I forgave these little distractions. The music choices brought me back to my own teenage years. What would one do if faced with a similar situation? I'd like to think I know. A very interesting ending. Just for bring ...more
Kathleen Dixon
I remember I went to some movie about a love affair between people who were married to somebody elses, and finding it unappealing. I wondered if it was simply because I found it immoral, but I couldn't quite make up my mind.

This book held my attention the whole time, and all I felt for the people was great sorrow. The compulsion that (was so well-written and) pulled the two lovers together, while knowing how much they would hurt their spouses and children, was overpowering.

I didn't used to think
...more
Rachel Gioia
I didn't love this book, but I didn't dislike it either. It had its moments, but it also had some areas that did not peak my interest. The story of a businessman, bored with his day-to-day life who on a whim decides to write a note to his first love. After much correspondence between the two, they decide to meet up...and neither of them could have imagined the whirlwind they were in for. Much of this book is predictable, although there are a few twists and turns that throw you for a loop. Not Sh ...more
Jules
I have very mixed feelings about this book and although it is contemporary fiction (a genre that I love) there was a little too much romance between the pages to realistically make it a book of real significance to me personally.

This could give the impression that I am a bit of a hard nut and un-romantic but this is not so. Instead, I like all books to have a deal of realism about them and I’m not sure that this one did. Confusingly and despite these comments, something about the book drew me in
...more
Enka-Candler Library
Shreve can write a dark, infidelity-driven romance as evidenced in The Pilot's Wife and The Weight of Water. Where or When never ventures out of this familiar territory. Based on the lyrics to a song made famous by Dion and the Belmonts in 1960, Shreve's novel explores the premise of young lovers who met at summer camp when they were 14, reuniting 31 years later with disastrous consequences.

I'm a sucker for novels with musical tie-ins, and it's fitting that keeping with the song from which the
...more
Bianca
This book is about finding an old love and the memories that resurface and challenge everything you're comfortable with and think of as your future. The ending catches you off guard which makes the book even that much more intriguing rather than having a typical ending. It's also a combination of stories from each of the lead character's perspective and love letters between the two. It was a quick read - I finished it in less than a day.
Ruth
The suspense in this book took my breath away. It’s the story of two adolescents who fall in love, then are separated for thirty-one years. Through it all run familiar songs of the 1960′s. The author writes so well of emotions and inevitability, and the reader knows it must end sometime, but doesn’t know how. The suspense was maintained until the very end.

Mary
Nov 22, 2011 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Anita Shreve
Recommended to Mary by: I like Anita Shreve as an author.
When Sian receives a love letter from an old flame, she is extremely flattered. However, what starts out as a friendly meeting to reacquaint themselves with each other soon descends into a fiery, volatile affair that rockets into a dark and dangerous obsession. I loved this book and give it an A+!
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Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). A ...more
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“If you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance.” 28 likes
“What they want seems so simple-time together, a lifetime together, or what is left of a lifetime together-and yet that small goal, he knows, is fraught with endless complications: a maze of responsibilities and commitments, deceptions and betrayals. Why, why, why he asks himself silently for the hundredth time, couldn't they have remained somehow connected-in touch , with all that phrase implies-until they were old enough to find each other again?” 2 likes
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