‘Some fans’ – Flannery’s voice had both hint and humour in it – ‘just won’t quit.’
In Pages For You, Flannery, new at college, encounters a beautiful and intimidating woman, who turns out to be a graduate student, and a TA in one of her classes – unavailable older women in positions of authority indeed. Or it would be, except for the fact that they fall in love, their affair unfolding over the next few months. Pages For Her catches up with them twenty years on, in their different, separate lives, with all that has happened – marriage, motherhood, successful careers, loss – and brings them back together.
I read Pages For You in the school holidays, in two afternoons. I loved it. I felt seen, the twisting ache and breathlessness of a short and intense love affair was so incredibly real, so familiar. The details were different, but a lot of the feelings were the same, or similar, or expected. I felt seen in a way that was exposing, vulnerable. It’s a whirlwind of self-discovery and heartbreak, of yearning and learning and listening and losing. It’s gorgeous.
Pages For Her, which I just finished, took a little longer, felt different, and I loved it as much. The familiarity was missing, for me – at 27, I’m yet to encounter a lot of what’s gone on for Flannery and Anne in those twenty years – but the feelings cut deep all the same.
Often a sequel can be disappointing, pale in comparison to what came before, but that isn’t the case here. For me, these books partner each other beautifully, snapshots of life at different stages, both unsatisfying and truthful in the way they are incomplete, open ended, unfinished. These books are gorgeous, and I look forward to revisiting them before too long.