In Lee Smith's "The Last Girls," four middle-aged women friends take a riverboat tour down the Mississippi to commemorate the trip they made as college students twenty years ago. Because the story's omnicient narrator focuses on one woman at a time, readers learn bit by bit about the past and present secrets of all four women. Harriet is a lonely, never-married professor who begins dating the boat's "Riverlorian" (river-historian) halfway down the Mississippi. Courtney is a wealthy southern belle who readers learn is in the middle of ending a long-term affair. Anna is a famous romance novelist whose far-from-ideal true love died not long ago. Catherine, the only happily married one of the four, reveals that she has breast cancer. While traveling, the four women share memories of one absent friend - Baby, a vivacious, self-destructive poet who died recently in a mysterious car crash - before scattering Baby's ashes in the water of the Big Muddy.
This report prepared by Jacqueline West