Two books I've just finished, coincidentally, both have to do with reunions. I listened to The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg and read The Group by Mary McCarthy. Berg's novel was written from the perspective of several modern-day characters, all convening at their 40th high school reunion. By the time each alumnus arrives at the event, I knew all about each character's background and their various regrets and heartbreaks (there were many).
The Group is structured much the same way, except we meet the seven 1933 Vassar College graduates first at one character's wedding following graduation. Then the rest of the book, until almost the end, tells about each woman's life over the next seven years (most characters interact with at least another friend of two throughout). Then at the end of the book the characters all come back together to attend the funeral of the classmate who married at the beginning. Much like with Berg's characters, McCarthy's women face a variety of issues: marital disharmony, mental illness, aging parents, declining physical health, modern motherhood and careers. I enjoyed both of these books very much, even though they were both, overall, very sad.
I think these books both gave me pause mostly because I've only had two reunions so far (one high school and one college), and another is on the horizon this spring, and I've yet to experience the death of a close classmate (thank goodness). Both the reunions I've attended so far have been overwhelmingly positive and fun, but then, so were my high school and college years. I hope each time I go to a reunion it's the same way. I'm holding out high hopes for my 10th college reunion coming up next month. I had so much fun with my classmates at our five year gathering that it ranks right up there with the best weekends I've ever had, the only better one being when I got married. Here's hoping that my 2001 college classmates are just as great, if not better, than we were when we graduated.