The Last Woman
By John Bemrose
Situated in Ontario’s Northern Country, The Last Woman, by John Bemrose is a captivating tale that revolves and entwines around the lives of three individuals: Billy, Ann and Richard. Each individual’s dilemma is different, yet similar and John Bemrose, the acclaimed author, shows the real, raw and unapologetic feelings, thoughts and emotions that each of these characters go through. The Last Woman takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions centered around finding love, being in love and loving yourself.
Centered around the 1980s, The Last Woman focuses on Billy, a band leader who had unsuccessfully laid claim to the land of Pine Lake. Following this, Billy leaves Pine Lake only to return 10 years later and find that nothing is the same in Pine Lake. Billy has nothing yet he yearns for something!
The book also centers around Ann and Richard, a married couple who were Billy’s friends before he left Pine Lake. Ann is Billy’s childhood lover and Richard is the lawyer who was entrusted by Billy to win the court case to lay claim to his band’s land. When Billy returns to Pine Lake, all three of these peoples’ broken lives become apparent. John Bemrose provides us with a human story of love, hate and longing through these characters.
The glue of the story is Ann. A painter by profession, Ann has not found any inspiration in 10 years to create anything good. She frequently is caught staring at her canvas, searching. What she is missing is Billy, the man who she loved as a young girl; the man; the man who she was forced to leave; and the man who gives her a reason to live. Billy brought her happiness and yet she chose to marry Richard, a “dependable” man. These circumstances evoke a deep kind of unhappiness, rage and angst in Ann. This is evident by her mannerisms. Her aloofness to Richard, need to be alone at random times, but also her overprotectiveness over her son, all these actions show a woman who is lost! She is the last woman.
When Billy returns back to Pine Lake, Ann seems to find her inspiration again. However, Richard seems to lose everything from his life. In the midst of wanting to start a political career, Billy’s presence around Ann and him seems to throw all of Richard’s plans awry. Not only does Richard lose his chance to get a political backing, he also loses Ann to infidelity. Best friends at one time, the two men now cannot stand to be in the same room. For Ann to go back and have an affair with her old lover is the last nail in the coffin for Richard. This results in a retaliatory action out of spite, hate and jealousy by Richard that changes Ann’s and Billy’s life completely. This is the plight of the last woman.
At first glance, The Last Woman promises to be a story of coming back home and finding peace with yourself. However, as the chapters go by, the story becomes more about the struggles that come with finding yourself and overcoming, the angst and anger that is within yourself!
The Last Woman is a gripping story whose characters are so well developed and whose narrative is so clear and intriguing that one cannot help but be one the edge of their seat while reading it Though it is slightly long (323 pages), this book will keep you hooked till the last page!