Sigrid Nunez begins her fifth novel, The Last of Her Kind, with this intriguing sentence: “We had been living together for about a week when my roommate told me she had asked specifically to be paired with a girl from a world as different as possible from her own.”
Pairings of young women have had a long history in fiction — from Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley in Vanity Fair to Scarlett and Melanie in Gone with the Wind to the Vassar classmates in Mary McCarthy’s The Group, the prototype for so much women’s fiction to this day. Traditionally, a rather bland and conventional woman has been paired with a much more compelling rulebreaker who in the end must pay heavily for her transgressions either by losing her status in society — or by losing her life. In The Last of Her Kind, the formula receives a different spin, but it is still operative.
I was interested in the novel (which I have yet to read) because I was hoping for a fresh take on this pairing of young women in college, but the review isn’t fully positive. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think.