After the Reunion by Rona Jaffe. Delacorte Press.
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publishing Date: 1985
My rating: 5/5
I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it at least a million more, Rona Jaffe is my favourite author. Author of The Best of Everything, Five Women, The Road Taken, and so many more novels that discuss women’s relationships with men, their careers, and coming to terms with life, Jaffe’s only sequel novel is written in the same fantastic style as all her works.
After the Reunion discusses the lives of four Radcliffe College graduates, now in their mid-forties, six years after they attend their twentieth college reunion. Emily Applebaum Buchman, Daphne Leeds Caldwell, Christine Spark English, and Annabel Jones never anticipated, or could have anticipated, that their middle-aged lives would look the way they do. The reader is quickly re-introdcued to the women we felt so deeply for in Class Reunion and their romantic and professional situations.
Each woman is so easy to sympathize with because there’s a little of us in each one of them. Jaffe’s greatest strength as a writer is creating characters that are so easy to identify with, characters who experience crazy events that don’t seem real (because, well they’re not) but in whom we can identify individuals we know, or ourselves, in. Emily is in an unhappy marriage, Daphne cannot live up to her expectations as the ‘Golden Girl’ anymore, promiscuous Annabel is ready for true love again, and Christine seeks to come to terms with an obsessive relationship that has haunted her since her teenage years.
The best addition to this sequel novel is the introduction of the children as central characters. The view of the children adds a new dimension to the continuing plot first introduced in Class Reunion, and allows the narrative to go deeper than it could have with only the stories of these four complicated women.
As per usual I have no negative comments about the book. Yes, at times the plot seems unbelievable but we are talking about fiction here. Most of the plot seems wholly plausible, and so many of the character flaws and events are too easy to identify with that it reads like the stories of friends. When Jaffe writes as one of the children she sounds like an adult, rather then a twelve year old, however, I easily forgive her for this singular flaw.
I would easily recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fiction, especially fiction from the 1960s-1980s. I would definitely recommend reading Class Reunion before delving into After the Reunion, since the storyline will make much more sense.