Last Convertible

Last Convertible

by Anton Myrer

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Overview

Anton Myrer's beloved, bestselling novel of America's World War II generation is as powerful now as it was upon its publication. An immediate classic, it tells the story of five Harvard men, the women they loved — and the elegant car that came to symbolize their romantic youth. It is also the story of their coming-of-age in the dark days of World War II, and of their unshakable loyalty to a lost dream of Camelot, of grace and style, in the decades that followed. The Last Convertible is a gripping tribute to a way of living that immortalized the "Greatest Generation."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425051795
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 03/15/1981
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"All right," Nancy said. "What's everyone going to do today? First you, young lady."

"Yes ma'am!" Amanda shot me that quick, mischievous glance and raised her fork like a baton. "You see, George Segal's zipping by in his Learjet and we're going to buzz over to the Cannes Film Festival."

"George Segal!" Peg said. "I'd think you'd want Robert Redford."

Amanda stuck out her lower lip and eyed her older sister and then Ron Dalrymple, who was ladling into his scrambled eggs. Amanda takes after me; her face is homely in a way, bones too prominent — my genes — but unlike me she's never let it bother her. The kids are so much more assured these days, I can never get over it. Then she blinked and gave a shivery little giggle. "We'll see, that's because my tastes are kind of kinky."

"Don't use that word, Amanda!" Nancy said in her Regimental Adjutant voice.

"Why? What's wrong with kinky? Kinky's just —"

"We've been over this before. It's offensive."

"Your mother feels it has lascivious connotations," I said, remembering a moment long ago.

"No, but suppose George Segal did swing by in his Learjet. How would you play it?"

Her mother watched her a moment. "You're barely sixteen. That's an academic question."

"But pretty soon it won't be. You know?" And she gave me that merry, defiant look again — the one that enchanted and scared me at the same time.

"Amanda, please." Nancy shifted to herCircuit Court voice. "I've things to do, and I need to know."

Amanda stuck out her lip again — then gave it up. "I'm going over to Ginny's and mess around. Play records...I don't know. Okay?" She picked up the paper and started reading.

"George, how about you?"

I looked at Nancy over the coffee cup's rim. That rounded, well-bred face, still smooth (though some of that was moisturizing cream, of course, applied each night and morning with the precision of a chemist); her hair graying now, a rather pleasing silvered blond, perfectly in place — she was the only one of us dressed and ready to go this raw February morning; she was always the only one — her brows raised in that curious expression of expectancy. First college date, wife of my bosom, mother of my children. Ordering, organizing, planning. For what? Still, she'd asked Amanda first, me second. That meant she had plans for Peg; maybe even for Ron. There was always a pattern behind her order of interrogation.

"Oh, Dad's going out to the old workshop," Amanda said, turning the pages of the Globe. "As usual."

"Yes, as a matter of fact I believe I will." Actually, I hadn't planned anything at all. It was that time of year free of pressures around the place — no wood to cut or leaves to rake. There wasn't even any snow to shovel. A Saturday hanging between seasons, a dead-center time.

Nancy nodded. "Well. I'm going in to town. There's a sale on at Stewart's." She clasped her hands under her chin and I knew what was coming. "How about you, Peg. Want to come along?"

"I don't know, Ma. Maybe." She gazed across the table at Ron, who was mopping up a second helping of eggs. That boy must be hollow right down to the heels. He raised his eyes to Peg and smiled with that special intimacy of theirs, but gave no other sign I could detect, though I'm not entirely up on today's nuances. I did know they'd talked till after two, down in the living room.

"Ron: how about you?" Nancy was smiling pleasantly enough, but her voice had that faint, firm edge to it. Nancy had just about given up on Peg and Ron. She insisted on maintaining the fiction of separate bedrooms although they'd clearly been sleeping together for some time now. We'd had an argument about it two nights before — her voice, hissing in my ear, had snapped me awake.

"George. George. He's gone in."

"Gone in what?"

"Into her bedroom. I heard him."

"So what?" I murmured. "They're old enough to know their own minds."

"You may be that emancipated, but I'm not."

"You're trying to tell me you don't know how things are between them? Come on, Nan!"

"It's wrong, all wrong. Peg's so damned willing..." She jerked herself up on one elbow, and I knew we wouldn't be getting back to sleep for a while. "Either he intends to marry her or he doesn't."

"They don't think that way, the kids nowadays."

"Ron's no kid."

"He had a little thing like Vietnam."

"Yes, and you had a little thing like World War II. You didn't let it paralyze you for ten years..." I chose not to reply to that one. "He's never going to do anything," she said implacably. "He's — he's unsound..."

"Chandler likes his work. He told me so."

"Do you expect Chandler to tell you he's incompetent? — What if she gets pregnant. Have you thought of that?"

"No," I said. "No, I haven't."

"Well, you'd better. You're the one who'll have to deal with the consequences."

"Maybe she's taking the pill," I said irritably. "Aren't they alI?"

"I don't know, she won't confide in me — you know Peg. She never has. Not in that way."

"It's a good way," I said.

"What?"

"Nothing." That wasn't a subject I wanted to pursue either. "Why don't you just leave them alone, Nan?"

"Just let events take their well-known course."

"Look," I said, wide awake now, and edgy, "are you going to tell them they can't see each other, they can't be in love with each other? That it?"

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The Last Convertible 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book on the advice of my father. It was his favorite book. I somewhat knew what to expect having seen the mini-series. I was not though prepared for what a vivid, telling and human novel it was. It is a great story of men, woman and the events that change and shape them. Well written with a striking feel for the period, music and world view. A great book.
kaplanr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps my favorite novel of any genre. Told through the eyes of George Virdon, a hardworking working class kid from Towanda, NY. This is a set of stories that cover 25 years or so beginning with a Freshman year at Harvard before WWII and ending during the Vietnam War on the day that Cadillac anounced it was stopping production of the ragtop El-Dorado - the last convertible. What ties the two eras together are the relationships - off and on - of these college friends and the one constant in their seperate lives, "The Empress", a 1938 Packard convertible, given to them by their Bon-Vivant French suitemate who returns to France to figh the Germans. For some of the characters life is about success, fame, for others it's financial comfort and for George it's everything. Love, chances taken or not taken, friendships, politics and war. His experiences as an infantryman in Europe and after coming home, raising a family, only to see his friend's son grapple with the reality of the draft.Throughout the years, George's solidity and the "Empress" are the book's generational constant. It ends with the youngsters not very interested in the old car as gift. George heads back to the garage and tells the car: "Well old girl, I guess you stay with me."
Tam320 More than 1 year ago
I have never read the book but intend to read it. I saw the mini series years ago and it was an awesome movie. I have searched for on DVD for several years. Last year I read that it was never released on VHS or DVD. I can't imagine why, it is such a great movie, one of my favorites. I can't wait to read the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With all the older movies on DVD, I wish I could find this one. Has anyone ever found it, or been looking for it? I love the book, and have reread it often. I give this *****
Guest More than 1 year ago
i selected The Last Convertible because after the first two chapters, i still wanted to read it. i enjoyed this book because i could relate to alot of the characters, and i learned alot about the time period. i enjoyed how the book ended, i expecteda fairytale ending, but it wasn't that, it was original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I give this book a five star rating - I think it's definitely worth anyone's time. You won't be able to put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read 'The Last Convertible' twice in my student years, and it impressed me with its sharp feeling of reality. The story is about a company of friends who all studied in the prestige American universities, were in love with each other, went through WWII, tried to find their place in life afterwards. The book strikes with the superfine descriptions of psychological states of the characters. Man, you live their life while reading! You cry with them, laugh with them, worry with them. You'll never forget 'The Last Convertible' having read it once.