A popular French novelist narrates the strange tale of London journalist Eleanor-Rigby Donovan, who receives an anonymous letter alluding to a crime committed by her deceased mother. It points her to a bar on the Baltimore Harbor, where she meets a stranger who has received the same mysterious letter about his own mother, and the two embark on a quest through the shadowy past of the Stanfield family.
The Last of the Stanfields...pulls off novelty with ease. While the prose itself doesn’t do anything daring, perhaps suffering a little from having been translated from the author’s precisely chosen words into a language that may not grasp the subtleties of the original, the plot is woven expertly, passing through three generations of narrators effortlessly ... The beauty of this novel is that the story is too big for one person to tell, and I love that it doesn’t even try to attempt that. Instead, we get bits and pieces of the story from several points of view ... It’s a patchwork story that somehow makes you feel like you’re sitting right alongside Eleanor and George as they go from clue to clue, gathering stories from many sources as they each try to piece together who their mothers were—and in turn figure themselves out in the process. You’ll find yourself staying up way past your bedtime (I certainly did) just so you can find out what the next clue is, the next piece of the puzzle that may or may not be the piece that finally shows the bigger picture. As one character, Professor Morrison, says, 'Patience now, patience. All will be revealed.' And you will be well satisfied when it is
The Last of the Stanfields asks readers to sit up straight and pay attention. The whirling plot is all in service to a big reveal that is a nifty, but underwhelming, twist ... The sheer number of major and minor players, combined with the shifting eras, diffuses tension ... the relaxed tone of the writing adds to the feeling of anticlimax, when it comes. The final reveal surfaces and is then dispatched in a rush to the too-perfect epilogue. Amusing at times, nostalgic and wistful at others, The Last of the Stanfields is a long and winding road. Depending on your tolerance for breezy yarns, you may end up humming 'You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me' or 'Helter Skelter.'
Chapters set in Baltimore in 1980 flesh out the story of these Beatles-loving women [the protagonists' mothers] and the tragedy that tore them apart ... Levy...demonstrates once again why he is the world's most-read French contemporary author in this intriguing tale of mystery and family secrets.