cover image In the Age of Love

In the Age of Love

Michael D. Stein, . . Permanent, $26 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-150-6

A sophisticated, intense and compact tale of love and regret, Stein's fifth novel is set in 1984. Jonathan Parrish is 43, unmarried and living in Burlington, Vt., working as a teaching consultant for UNICEF and as a part-time professor. Lily Mayeux, 35 and living in Portland, Maine, is a married high school biology and earth science teacher, with a four-year-old son. Jonathan and Lily's one-year relationship in New York 12 years earlier ended when workaholic Jonathan went off to Nicaragua. When he sees her name on a list of attendees for a New Orleans convention where he's scheduled to speak, he starts smoking again. Over that weekend, Lily and Jonathan reunite and ruminate in alternating viewpoints over their profound losses, each emerging as vulnerable and flawed. Their reunion is wary, and, without overly sentimental trappings or major declarations, it's affecting. Stein (This Room Is Yours ) makes their musings smartly paced and multilayered, with sharp writing throughout. The past ends up crowding out the former lovers' weekend in lush, sultry, pre-Katrina New Orleans, but a canny twist makes for a satisfying ending. (May)