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The Last Woman

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In the heart of cottage country in Ontario, bordering on a native reservation, Ann and Richard are confronted with the abrupt reappearance after ten years of a local man, Billy. His presence once again in their lives brings back powerful memories and rekindles old conflicts, love, and a betrayal, as each of their past and present stories gradually unfolds during one 1980s ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by McClelland & Stewart (first published September 29th 2008)
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Best Canadian Aboriginal Fiction
10th out of 27 books — 16 voters
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Canadian Summer Books
4th out of 14 books — 8 voters


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Community Reviews

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Steven Langdon
"The Last Woman" explores the tangled relationship amongst three complex people whose past in the end proves so powerful that it overwhelms their present -- and turns their lives in directions that they thought they had all escaped. Ann, the woman that both Billy and Richard have loved, is the heart of this novel, grappling with her passion to paint and the pain that she has experienced in her life. Her painting, "The Last Woman," drives this book forward -- her efforts to complete it mirror the ...more
Vicki
John Bemrose's The Last Woman focuses on the intertwined lives of an artist, her lawyer husband and her former lover, an Aboriginal community leader in northern Ontario where the artist's family has had a cottage for many years. The book is thoughtful and carefully crafted. However, Bemrose's attempt to present all three points in this triangle in as balanced and evenhanded a manner as possible results in the book being overly internal, self-absorbed and ponderous. To one extent or another, each ...more
Shonna Froebel
This is a novel set in cottage country in Ontario that encompasses not only a variety of relationships, but also native rights and the environment.
Billy has been away from Pine Island, where he used to be band chief, for ten years. He left after the loss of a case regarding native land rights where Richard was the band lawyer.
Billy and Richard had a falling out around the case and their relationship soured.
Richard and Ann were only recently married back then, and Ann's father was still alive. No
...more
Lyn Zuberbuhler
John Bemrose has attempted to write about the impact of industry on the beautiful lakes of Ontario, as well as the impact on the native people who live in these areas. His story involves 3 people, 2 of whom have known each other for a very long time, with the third added as the woman's husband. Ann has a secret which she has kept from both men in her life for many years. It continues to haunt her relationship with her husband, Richard, and then resurfaces when her former lover, Billy, returns to ...more
Mary
While I liked the setting and the premise of the book, I struggled to remain engaged. Not sure I cared about the characters by the end of the book.
Denis
The story is set in the 1980s Northern Ontario, cottage country. The narration is an alternating POV between Ann, a painter who has cottaged there throughout her childhood; Billy, a native whom she loved as a young girl, and her present day husband, Richard, who also had a working relationship with Billy.

So yes, the story revolves around a love triangle. It is beautifully written (Bemrose is also a poet) and effectively uses flashbacks throughout to bring the reader to the present day. My nitpi
...more
David Mills
Awful. Tedious, boring. I did not care one bit for any of the characters.
Sooz
i picked this up because i read his first novel, The Island Walkers, and liked it a great deal. it may not be completely fair, but it seems inevitable that some comparison is made. i think The Island Walkers was a stronger story. more compelling. but i like that The Last Woman deals with different aspects of life, and that he even picked a different geographical location. this seems important, as the geography seems to have a significant presence in both these books.
Charlotte
May 10, 2012 Charlotte rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Charlotte by: lisa keay
I quite liked this book and had a hard time putting it down, although the ending left me wanting more. I enjoyed the writing style and I was really able to relate to the main female character - I was somewhat surprised that she was written by a man. He manages to capture the feminine emotions surrounding young love, sexuality, and an unwanted pregnancy with an unexpected poignancy. Enjoyable.
Alexis
Sep 27, 2009 Alexis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Really enjoyed this book and am surprised that it did not get more press. Beautifully written characters and great description in a powerful setting. There were a few scenes that really struck with me. The author also did a great job of linking flashbacks with present day narrative in a way that kept me intrigued. Good book.
Vionna
The poet in the author rises up in his descriptions of the land and the destruction brought upon it. His characters, especially Ann, Richard and Billie, are so well drawn and complex. The hardships and alienation of its youth on reservations are so well described. This book was hard to put down.
Evelyn
Dec 27, 2010 Evelyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
A slow start but I came to really enjoy this book. Story involves an Aboriginal land claim, a marriage that is floundering, and memories of time at the cabin. While not a gripping page turner, once I got into the plot I wanted to keep on going.
Shannon
Written by a Toronto beach resident. Apparently he often visits the Beach Public Library - or so the librarian told me when i returned the book, and mentioned how much i loved the writing. Heartbreak at its best.
Marlene
A bit heavy on the lyrical, but I will push on.
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