Member Reviews

This book was pitched to me as a romance that's not really about romance and look into the challenges life can offer down the road. Being somewhat masochistic, it sounded like something I might like! Sarah and Warren are in their fifties with adult children when they run into each other at an opera. They were in love in college but ended things over a misunderstanding, and reconnect all these years later. Sarah is divorced, and Warren is unhappily married. They start a romance, and the nitty gritty of their lives all these years later is exposed. This book almost felt like a's so easy to be idealistic in your 20s and 30s but this book is the hard look at how life often really ends up, so far from everyone's original intentions.

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Leaving is a heavy, challenging book about the choices we make. It's a study of the different relationships in our lives: spouses, lost loves/old flames, and the relationships between parents and their children.

It's about making awful, hurtful decisions as well as sacrificial decisions in which you give up your own happiness for the happiness of others.

The writing in this story was beautiful. I will say that I'm glad I read the e-book version, because there were several words that I needed to look up the meaning of, and I LOVE that. I love books that expand my knowledge or introduce me to new words, especially in a way that doesn't feel pretentious. The words I didn't know were put there with intention and they fit the writing style and the story. They weren't put there just for the author to flex her literary muscles, if you know what I mean.

This book is somewhat dry in its delivery (not in a bad way), but if you are someone that likes a fast-moving, plot driven story, this might not be for you. That said, I am someone that often prefers plot-driven stories, or ideally, a book that is both character and plot driven. I'd say this book is definitely more character-driven and we spend a lot of time inside the characters heads, seeing things from their perspective. But this is done so well that I never felt bored or that the story was dragging. There were definitely some little plot points that felt unnecessary to the story, but they went by quickly and never annoyed me - they just didn't really serve a purpose in the overall story.

I will say that this book will pull you in different directions. Characters make poor, hurtful decisions, but then later you feel sad for other decisions they were sort of forced to make. There's essentially no way for a happy ending for everyone, and this is not a joyous, uplifting book. But it's a very real book about the decisions people have to make. It's a great look at the complexity of different relationships and how the decisions we make impact those relationships.

If my review seems vague it's because I don't want to give away any spoilers. Anyone that has read the synopsis may think it's a "second chance" romance. But it's not a HEA light romance read at all. It's a much more thoughtful, heavy book than that, so just be prepared for that if you are looking for a HEA.

The ending of this book did feel a bit abrupt and left me shocked, but then when I looked back and saw how it fit a certain dialogue that was weaved throughout the book, I was blown away.

I loved this book and while I don't think it will be for everyone, it was definitely for me.

Thank you to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

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A beautifully-written, heartbreakingly twisty tale of star-crossed lovers, who may in fact, now get a second chance to be together, almost forty years after their original romance.

Sarah Carson Blackwell is sixty-ish, divorced, with two grown children, and is long used to living alone. (Note: well, not quite alone, as Sarah has quite possibly the best literarily-developed doggie ever, the long-limbed and graceful Bella, who has every bit as much personality as Sarah herself. This reader spent the first half of this story worried sick about Bella, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in Sarah’s house, pitifully left alone, overnight and longer).

When Sarah unexpectedly runs into Warren, her old college flame and perhaps the only man she ever really loved, catching up may both resolve old misunderstandings, and rekindle feelings long held dormant for each of them. The only remaining issue, and a major one, may be that Warren, now a very successful architect, is also very much married, with one adult daughter of his own.

Without giving the plot away, Sarah, struggling with the realization that “the older you become, the more irrelevant you are”, longs for “a secret cocoon, made by the two of them”, as she remembers being held by Warren, “as though she was a treasure”. At the same time, Warren, feeling “his marriage wrapped around him like skin, close and tight”, can only dream of escape and rekindled beginnings.

Told with beauty, grace and quiet aching vulnerability, this story shines a light on love, in all its intricacies, tangled up with missed opportunities, meddling families, messy complications, the trials of aging, and the confounding of responsibilities, once freely taken on. Without giving the plot away, (no spoilers here), there are no easy answers for Sarah and Warren.

Recommended for lovers of fine-fiction laced with more than a touch of poignancy, this is a read brimming with a whole host of complex personal moral, broader ethical, and always emotional questions.

As the plot meanders and turns, hitting bumps that this reader found agonizingly difficult to process (someone is in need a REALLY good wake-up shake here!), a resolution of sorts inevitably materializes. And it’s an emotional one, (only predictable late in the tale), that for this reader, scored high on the definite lump-in-the-throat test.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.

*** four and a half shiny stars

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Leaving is a complicated, messy love story that I thoroughly enjoyed – but I know it won’t be for everyone. If adultery is a trigger, stay away. If you don’t enjoy characters that don’t always make the decisions you want them to, this book is probably not for you. If you’re still with me, read on.

Leaving is about college sweethearts that go their separate ways and then reconnect in their 60s. Warren is married; Sarah is divorced. But they feel a pull toward each other and their strong feelings for each other come flooding back. To be together, the couple must make big decisions that will have irreparable consequences. What consequences are worth being happy? Is it worth the hurt and heartbreak? How do we decide what’s right?

I love books that ask big, complicated questions. The writing is gorgeous but very accessible, and the characters feel very real in all their messiness. I think this would make an excellent book club book, because there is so much to discuss here.

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This story is a real masterpiece. The characters are dynamic, with their complexities practically jumping off the page. I was entraptured by the matter-of-fact writing style which so easily displayed rather nuanced experiences pertaining to love, divorce, and familial obligation. Creatively speaking, every moment was portrayed with such a light hand that the narrative felt like a breath of fresh air all throughout. Despite rather heavy thematic elements, there is immense payoff in the form of quiet, subtle, tender moments both between characters and within each individual character's own self. I have found myself thinking about these vibrant characters and the beauty of this narrative on a daily basis. This is sure to become a all-time favorite of mine.

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I was very excited to read this after reading the description - college sweethearts that find their way back to each other 40 years later? I'm all in for the romance and reunion. The author does have phrases of beautiful writing and thought provoking questions and situations throughout the novel. But for me, this book was a bit flat, it lacked excitement and intrigue. At times, the characters, especially Warren and Kat, were unlikeable. I feel like large chunks of the story could have been left out, without changing the main story line. Overall, I found this book to be heart breaking and depressing.

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I really enjoyed this read with a focus on marriage and love in our later years. The perspective of the parent of adult children, seeing their adult children and partner through their eyes was an honest and new point of view. It was a five-star read for me until the ending and William's decision was disappointing. I understood it based on some points- Shakespearean tragedy that fits aspects of his character, but in the end, I didn't quite believe he would come to this decision. I was hoping that it would end, not tied up with a bow but slightly more relatable of what happens to relationships overtime.
Thank you to NetGalley and W.W. Norton for the ARC!

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I love love stories, especially ones where characters reunite after having spent many years apart, but this one just didn't work for me. I found the writing quite cold, distanced, and the characters' actions frustrating and not very understandable to me. I thought this was especially the case with the novel's inciting incident/conflict, which didn't make any sense to me to be honest. Overall, this had potential in theory, but in execution it was not to my taste, to say the least.

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"She is no longer in that vulnerable place in which a woman waits for a man to choose her. She has her own life, she doesn't need to be chosen. Nothing he does can give him power over her. She can spend the night with him and then never answer his emails. If she chooses. She will not be beholden to him in any way. Yet she is afraid, she is always afraid. Of failing. Of rejection."

This story is one that will really stick with me. It's a story about divorce, but also about marriage, parenting, and the relationships between parents and children throughout our lives. Often a parent will sacrifice their own happiness for their child's, regardless of the cost. This book really shows how one decision you make in your early twenties can transform your life. Particularly who you decide who to marry...and when.

How do you decide who to marry? Is it simply the partner you're with at the time in your life when you feel ready?
Is love a constant struggle between passion and honor?
Are there ever moral grounds for leaving a marriage?
What do we owe our children and others who love us?
Is personal joy more important than being present and caring for family?
Should adult children ever have the right to “own” their parents’ lives or emotionally blackmail them?
Do you follow your heart...or your head?

Robinson writes beautifully, and there were so many passages I wanted to remember - especially the one above I quoted. Highly recommend this book! Thank you NetGalley for the early digital copy.

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A cold, fast-flowing river of a novel. Roxana Robinson’s craft is excellent. The mood of this story beautifully manages to be calm and serene while reckoning with an undercurrent of turmoil and despair. This was my introduction to her work, and I’m eager to read her other novels.

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I absolutely loved this book. It was such a raw, visceral, honest, intimate portrait of a marriage. I almost felt like I was reading nonfiction at times. Warren and Sarah were teenage loves that break up and go on to marry and have children and full lives with other people. They meet again many, many years later when they are in their sixties at an opera and reignite their love affair but Warren is still married and must leave his wife. The “leaving” is portrayed so honestly, the breaking of a family, the desire to have happiness himself but maintain a connection with his daughter who threatens to never speak to him again. Choosing a place to live trying to be together when their lives, careers and home are so separate., the agony that is in “the leaving” and is it worth it. This book explored what you are willing to give up to have true love. And the ending!!!!! I really enjoyed reading a story about older characters finding passionate, true, love in their lives again. Can’t say enough good things about this book.! It was a perfect fit for me as a reader !!

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This was a powerful novel centered around the themes of honor and passion. Sarah and Warren had a love affair during college but it ended when Warren suggested a trip to Bucharest that worried Sarah. All of a sudden, she didn’t want to be with him anymore, she thought him dangerous and unreliable. Now in their sixties, they run into each other at an opera and rekindle their love affair. Sarah is divorced with two children but Warren is still married, unhappily. The story that unfolds centers around Warren’s struggle with his moral obligation and his desire for happiness. Yes, the title is reflected in his struggle to leave his marriage, his wife, and his daughter, but it also refers to children leaving their parents. I loved this part of the book. What role does a parent have once a child is raised and on their own? How does the parent fit into the child’s life? What is left once the child is gone? What is the commitment a parent has to a child and is a parent entitled to happiness even if it means disappointing a child? This was a masterpiece!

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Warren and Sarah were college sweethearts, until they weren’t. They’ve moved on with their lives, both have remarried, and they never expected to see one another again. But then, they run into one another at the opera and they feel that spark they felt all those years ago. Sarah is now divorced with two children, Warren is still married with one child. And they embark on an affair to rekindle what they lost all those years before.

This felt like a really accurate portrayal of something that can feel fairly frequent in our world. Long lost loves, finding what they once had. But this book, on the whole, was incredibly somber and depressing. After I closed the book, I was just sad and I’m not sure if I enjoyed reading this book or not.

To be sure, the author is incredibly talented, and the love between Sarah and Warren was apparent. But, the pace felt strange to me - immediately jumping into the affair, and then spending a lot more time in the after effects when what I was really hoping to see was why Sarah and Warren were so in love to begin with - I never quite understood what they had together, I was just supposed to believe it.

But also, while I thought Sarah and Warren were great characters - their thoughts and actions felt applicable to their situation, I absolutely hated Warren’s wife and his daughter, which isn’t something that I expected to feel - after all, they were the ones wronged in the scenario. But they seemed to be truly miserable people and I didn’t like reading about them.

So that was the story - it felt rushed but also drawn out. I mostly liked the characters, except for those in Warren’s family. And there were certain storylines that were truly heartbreaking and drew me in while others just had my eyes glazing over, though of course I can’t talk about them without it being spoiler-y.

But, I never quite felt like I had a handle on where we were in the story - where we just a couple of months into the affair, or were we years in? Then suddenly we’d fast forward to 4 years in the future and it just felt like whiplash the entire time. There was some weird repetition happening that I’m hoping was cleaned up in the final copies, and large chunks of it felt overly written.

So while I’m glad I hung with the book, I also am not sure if it’s one I’d readily recommend because it was just so depressing and sad - and the end had me enraged.

Also: my digital review copy was absolutely LITTERED with formatting issues, making it hard to even read at certain points. I almost put it down simply for that. And there were huge glaring mistakes, such as Meg's third child's name - sincerely hope these were cleaned up in edits!!

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While the writing was enjoyable and well done, I didn't enjoy the plot or the characters at all. Development was lacking and the ending was awful. Cannot recommend.

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Leaving by Roxana Robinson was a real emotional rollercoaster. The book follows Sarah and Warren, who had dated in college, as they meet again as older adults. Sarah has been divorced for years, while Warren is not-so-happily married. They're instantly drawn together again and the book follows them through their tumultuous affair. We watch the main characters and their families as they navigate their relationships with one another and all of the power dynamics at play. The characters were absolutely fascinating and the ending left my jaw on the floor. Would highly recommend!

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I have conflicted feelings about this book. For much of it I wanted to put it down and leave it down. It was too much description of the occupations of the two main characters- architecture and art- neither one is of any interest to me so I felt way more information was given than I cared to read.

The two main characters- Warren who was having an affair while married and Sarah who was divorced- had dated seriously in their younger days and had gone their separate ways for more than 37 years. ***Spoiler alert- He feels trapped in his marriage and decides to leave, only to be blackmailed into staying by his daughter. I won't say any more about the plot.

Neither character had a healthy relationship with his/her children and that was unsettling. I thought Warren was trapped of his own free will, Sarah had gone against her "no married men" rule so she knew what she was getting into.

Thank you NetGalley for an advance reader copy. Opinions expressed here are my own and are freely given.

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I'm a big fan of Roxana Robinson - I think I've read most or all of her backlist though I think this is her first book in about 15 years - worth the wait as I love her writing style.

This story was a cross between Jane Austen's Persuasion - a second chance romance about 30 years after a college relationship ended - and Edith Wharton's novels of difficult choices with consequences no matter which path is chosen. I loved this through and through - we get to see the perspectives of both main characters and joy and pain that comes with their reconnection.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Reading this book made me want to revisit the author's backlist for some re-reading since it's been so long.

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This book explores relationships and the concept of love showing how conflicted they can be. Warren and Sarah were a couple in their youth as college sweethearts. They meet years later and rekindle their romance despite Warren still being married. Sarah is divorced from the man she left Warren for. The novel portrays the toll the relationship takes on the characters. There is disfunction between parents and children and the way this is portrayed seems authentic and accurate.

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A heartbreaking and lyrical story. Beautiful prose that lingers way after you close the book. Characters that are vividly drawn and flawed. I loved every moment of this.

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Sarah and Warren are college sweethearts. They abruptly break up. Many decades later, they see each other at an opera they are attending. Sarah has been divorced many years and Warren is still married. Sarah isn’t sure she wants to have an affair with Warren but they do. Will Warren leave his wife for Sarah?

The beginning part of the book you are getting to know the characters. The middle third of the book felt boring and mundane. The last third the story picks up again. I really struggled to have a connection with the characters and Sarah was not very likable to me. She didn’t seem to have any empathy or maybe because she seemed so insecure in certain ways. The ending was predictable to me. It is a very sad book to read.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Roxana Robinson for the Arc copy of this book.

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