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The Last Resort

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Like a loyal Victorian wife, Jenny has devoted her life to her much older husband, the famous writer and naturalist Wilkie Walker, bringing up their children and researching and editing his best-selling books. But this year, as winter approaches, Wilkie is increasingly depressed and withdrawn. At her wit's end, Jenny persuades him to visit Key West, the Last Resort. Within
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Owl Books (first published 1998)
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Showing 1-30
3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  447 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Eugenea Pollock
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the things I enjoy about Lurie's books is the background and insight that each provides for characters that populate other books--e.g., this one fills in the blanks about Chuck Mumpson of "Foreign Affairs". But "The Last Resort" is much more than that, and much more than many of the Goodreads community reviews I read. To me, this book is about how its diverse and complex characters, who scatter along a continuum of age, health, and experience, confront their own mortality and their need f ...more
Cindi Blyberg
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
lurie reduces one of the most famous literate locales and flamboyant towns in the u.s. to a bunch of lukewarm, two-dimensional characters doing a lot of tepid, uninteresting things. (spring 2004)
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
A rather odd book in that it deals with rather depressing themes (aging and suicide as a possible way out) but mixes it with a not very convincing lesbian romance. Convinced that he has colon cancer, Wilkie Walker, once a very successful author of books about nature, accepts his wife's suggestion of a winter in Key West because he assumes he will find it easy to drown himself there without his survivors suspecting suicide. Needless to say, all his attempts are thwarted in one way or another, and ...more
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
If we could give half stars, I'd rate this book 2.5.. half way between "it was ok" and "I liked it." I wanted a trip to Key West and I like the version that Alison Lurie gives us. Her observations of tourists and tourists who become residents strikes me as so true... I see it where I live now and have seen it in places I've lived before (I like living in places in which the population has high and low seasons.)

"...shops and restaurants were crowded with adults dressed like children at play, in
Dec 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I feel badly saying this, but: this simply isn't a brilliant novel, compared to Lurie's best-known book, Foreign Affairs. It must be terrible to write a really wonderful novel, win a Pulitzer prize for it, and then have every subsequent novel pale in comparison. Having said this, The Last Resort is a diverting read, a bit disconnected--some of the characters seem to have been forcefully developed solely in order to put the main characters into motion--but worth a week or reading time.
Lynda Schmidt
Dec 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Okay, it really isn't fair that I rate the book a 1 since I didn't even finish it but, like many of the other GoodReads reviews, I found that I cared very little about the characters and it seemed like nothing was happening - I couldn't imagine maintaining faith for another 150 pages. I expected to like the book much more. (Thank goodness it wasn't a book club book or I might have to forfeit my awesome award. :) )
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This was an easy,light read but the characters were not very appealing and the ending kind of fizzled. There were many times during the first 2/3 of the book that I wanted to scream "just kill yourself already!" to Wilkie Walker while hoping that his wife Jenny would miraculously develop a backbone.
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really didn't like this novel. It started off okay, but rapidly degenerated into a series of events it was hard to care about. The one point to note is that this book features a character by the name of Barbie Mumpson Hickock, perhaps one of the more startling names in fiction, but a vapid character nonetheless.
Anne Van
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Set in the mid-1980's Key West, a comedy poking gentle fun at pompous environmentalists and marriage conventions.
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it
light but nice
Aug 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
Could. Not. Finish.
Lucy Burdette
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the Key West setting very much. But for me, the multiple points of view made it difficult to connect with the characters
Andy Miller
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The novel begins in a New England college town with 45 year old Jenny Walker worrying about her husband, the famous writer and naturalist Wilie Walker who at 70 years old is starting to act, well, like a 70 year old. Wilkie is feeling the effects of aging, the waning of his professional career and is convinced that he has cancer based on his rectal pain and blood in his stool. Jenny reminisces to when they met when she was 21 and Wilkie was 45, the age she is now when he was larger than life an ...more
Shelly Spiller
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
If characters aren’t particularly likable, it’s fine by me as long as they are interesting or compelling. But when these unlikable characters are also stereotypical and dull—so dull, in fact, that they constantly utter monosyllabic responses like “Mhm,” “mpfh,” “Mrf,” and so on—and when their story, set in Key West, ignores any sense of place whatsoever, that is most certainly not fine. I am mystified by the book’s positive reviews, unless they represented lingering good will toward Alison Lurie ...more
Fabienne Lafon
L'écriture d'Alison Lurie est toujours agréable, mais j'ai trouvé le thème de ce roman trop semblable au précédent que j'ai pu lire (la Vérité et ses conséquences), à savoir une femme dévouée à son universitaire/écrivain de mari, et qui s'échappe de cette relation étouffante grâce à une aventure extra-conjugale.
Je pense que c'est une question de générations (Alison Lurie est née en 1926) mais on peine parfois à prendre part aux atermoiements des ces épouses qui servent de secrétaires et d'intend
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Every character seemed to be a caricature. WW was too much a downer, Jenny was too selfless, Lee was overly judgemental, Barbie surpassed foolish and so on. It became difficult to take any of them seriously.
Kate Page
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this years ago, and picked it up for something easy and entertaining to read when recovering from a cold. It did the job well, involving and nicely told tale with interesting characters and a good sense of place.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Fine. The ending had no ending, nothing tied up or resolved. That’s too easy.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It was ok. A little slow at times.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I had visited Key West recently and loved being reminded of this setting. Good but not great story.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Good, nearly a four.....
Julia Rodas
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this! For fans of David Lodge, here's a very similar writer of clever, understated campus novels, inflected with mid-century sentiments and aesthetics. Advantage: a woman's sardonic take.
Deborah Markus
I read this years ago and was disappointed in it. I'd just fallen in love with Lurie via "The Truth About Lorin Jones," and didn't think this lived up to that. Also, I know Lurie loves drawing on her previous novels for characters, but I thought she took it a little too far here. A surprise appearance near the end of the novel strains credibility, especially given this book's relationship to "Lorin Jones."

I'm older now; and while I think my previous criticisms still stand, I found more to admire
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My snails pace, hunched over, search through the treasures at our local library’s book sale, netted this precious gem.

Initially, I chose it because of the setting – Key West and then because Alison Lurie is a Pulitzer Prize winner. How could it not be amazing?

Hooked from the very first page. I loved Jenny and the rest of the cast - all touchable, relatable, and real. Through their words or thoughts, I laughed and smiled as I saw myself or people I knew.

Ms. Lurie waded through deep, difficult lif
Janet Gardner
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The titular last resort is Key West, where an amusingly assorted cast of characters have come to—variously—work, vacation, live, or die in the sun. The cast includes naturalist writer Wilkie Walker, who believes that he is dying of cancer and has come to Key West to “accidentally” drown himself before he becomes truly sick; Wilkie’s (slavishly) devoted, much younger wife Jenny, who is beginning to wonder if she might actually be a lesbian; Lee, owner of a women-only guest house, who would love t ...more
Karenbike Patterson
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie G
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I like Lurie's storytelling, and I read this because I love Key West as a setting. However, I wasn't really taken by the characters. The professor husband is a whiner, the main female character is confused. The only sure character is the lesbian inn owner. The denouement was not believable. I see the humor in the book, but it needs more than humor to keep it going.

I do want to try another of her novels, though. I think I like most of her storytelling style.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I just finished reading this book. My first Lurie book. They are not so easy to come by for some reason. It was ok. I enjoyed reading the book and seeing the development of the characters but I really did not like the ending. I felt that once one character resolved his issue, the rest of the book just fell apart and she didnt really tie up all the ends she started. I think really I would give this book 2.5 stars.
Janie Vogel
Feb 09, 2009 rated it liked it
The startup was more satisfying than the last half. The main characters were "quirky," and I'm not a big fan of quirky -- too often that drifts into caricature and stops being believable. That was the case here, in my opinion. But I was compelled to finish it, and I have no compunctions about closing a book that no longer interests me. Too many books, too little time!
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Alison Lurie (b. 1926) is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, she joined the English department at Cornell University in 1970, where she taught courses on children’s literature, among others. Her first novel, Love and Friendship (1962), is a story of romance and deception among the faculty of a snowbound New England colle ...more
“Having a chronic illness, Molly thought, was like being invaded. Her grandmother back in Michigan used to tell about the day one of their cows got loose and wandered into the parlor, and the awful time they had getting her out. That was exactly what Molly's arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn't go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies, and all she could do really was edge around it and put up with it.

When other people first became aware of the cow, they expressed concern and anxiety. They suggested strategies for getting the animal out of Molly's parlor: remedies and doctors and procedures, some mainstream and some New Age. They related anecdotes of friends who had removed their own cows in one way or another. But after a while they had exhausted their suggestions. Then they usually began to pretend that the cow wasn't there, and they preferred for Molly to go along with the pretense.”
“Though most tourists accepted the occasional comic misadventure, it was important to them that overall their vacation should be pleasant. When you spend money on a holiday you are essentially purchasing happiness: if you don't enjoy yourself you will feel defrauded.” 4 likes
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