Peter and Beth Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Peter and Beth

Five years afer Peter Granelli's lone sexual encounter with Beth, a close friend from his college days, he spots her from a distance on a Manhattan street. Soon he becomes obsessed with the idea that Beth might have become pregnant as a result of their (somewhat disastrous) tryst. Peter's therapist urges him to track Beth down to learn the truth of the situation, but Peter has some reservations. To start with, because his father has always been emotionally distant from him, he wonders if he himself is emotionally equipped for fatherhood. Then there's the possibility that there's a man in Beth's life who has been functioning essentially as a surrogate father to his--Peter's--child (that is, if the child exists). Should he leave well enough alone, Peter asks himself, or should he risk changing his life in ways he can't imagine?
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While Peter wrestles with these questions, the weeks and months go by. In February, three months after his sighting of Beth, Peter is walking home from work when he sees a poster advertising a concert that is to take place the next night. Among the performers will be Beth Hadley, who is an oboist. The next night he attends the concert, intending to confront Beth afterwards. But as the concert ends, a little girl of about four years old begins to run up the aisle toward Beth. "Mommy!" she shouts, and Beth whisks the girl up into her arms. In the next moment, a young man who bears a fairly strong resemblance to the child begins to walk up the aisle toward Beth. Beth, her daughter in her arms, walks toward the man, and when they meet half-way down the aisle they kiss. Peter assumes from all this that the man is the little girl's father and that, therefore, Beth never had his--Peter's--child.

A few months later Peter gets a surprise phone call from Beth. She tells him that she saw him leaving the concert a few months earlier and that she has something she'd like to discuss with him. They meet for dinner and eventually she drops a bombshell: Amy, her little daughter, is Peter's child. Peter is overwhelmed by the news. Beth explains to him why she kept Amy's paternity secret from him all these years, and her explanation seems entirely plausible. Still, Peter doesn't know if he should believe what she's told him; Beth was honest to a fault when he knew her in college, but after five years who knows how she might have changed? Placing a twenty dollar bill on he table, he tells Beth that he'll be in touch with her and quickly leaves the restaurant.

A couple of days later Peter tells his therapist of this new development, and during the course of their session he realizes that he does in fact want to accept paternity and become part of Amy's life. Still, over the course of the next several days he can't bring himself to call Beth. Then one evening he returns home from work to find a letter with Beth's return address on the envelope. He opens the envelope and removes from it a snapshot of a little girl with a yellow bow crowning her long brown hair and an impish grin on her face. "Amy!" he says aloud, and he knows instantly that she is his daughter. The next day he calls Beth, intending to tell her he wants to be part of Amy's life, but there's no answer. He tries again a few minutes later but still there's no answer.
The review of this Book prepared by Doug Lalli

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Chapter Analysis of Peter and Beth

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1960's-1970's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   rekindling lost love/marriage Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Pregnancy/Child rearing    -   Yes Major part of story:    -   unexpected child appears

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Doug Lalli Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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