A fictionalized account of true events, The Last Romantic follows the journey of Belinda, a successful career woman from Toronto, who feels the pull of London and decides to follow her heart across the pond in search of love, inspiration, and the novel she knows she has in her.
A philosopher at heart, Belinda spends most of the time writing and thinking about her guiding principle, Love, often asking for signs and signals to point her in the right direction. (The author often capitalizes the word “love” as if it were a character in the story.) When Love puts a handsome, mysterious gentleman, known only as the Fellow, in her path, Belinda must discern which signs point to true love, and which point to life lessons.
Mimi B. Martinoski’s novel presents many ideas and suggestions about what love is, but there is very little romantic action here. With sparse, almost throwaway dialogue, the reader’s experience of this deep romance is dictated, rather than shown. It’s clear that the author intends the Fellow to represent the idea of love, that his essence means more than the particulars, but not having his name revealed is more frustrating than illuminating, creating the feeling of being kept out of a secret, rather than invited in.
While the idea of Belinda looking to signs to inform her next move is an intriguing concept, the novel quickly feels redundant: In virtually every scenario, she looks for a sign, receives one, questions whether this is the sign she was looking for, and then agonizes over its meaning.
Although this is a promising philosophical read, such promise wanes as the potential romance fizzles under the weight of the characters’ second-guessing and the author’s choice to keep the reader at arm’s length. Still, The Last Romantic touches on insightful concepts of what we, as feeling creatures, might be seeking in our search for love and may appeal to readers interested in these notions.
Also available in hardcover.