Cover image for The gazebo
The gazebo
Grayson, Emily.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, 1999.
Physical Description:
210 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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The Gazebo is an elegantly written story of enduring love and loyalty, in the popular tradition of The Bridges of Madison County and The Notebook.

Once a year for half a century, a man and a woman have been meeting at the gazebo in the square of a small town in upstate New York. Martin Rayfiel and Claire Swift long ago married other people, yet they have remained faithful to their vow to love each other always. When Martin, now a handsome, elderly man, walks into the office of the town newspaper and tries to tell his tale to the young editor Abby Reston, she is too busy to listen. But the next day Abby finds herself drawn to the gazebo to watch for the annual arrival of Martin and Claire. She waits and waits, but they don't come. Puzzled and intrigued, Abby finds a briefcase that Martin left behind for her, and in it--in photographs, papers, tape recordings, and mementos--is the entire astonishing story of Martin and Claire, a love affair that spanned the globe and somehow survived for fifty years.

The only son of the town's wealthiest family, Martin dreamed of being a world-class chef, while Claire, born of poor parents, hoped to be a sculptor. Despite their disparate backgrounds, and in defiance of small-town morality, they left everything behind and traveled together through Europe, until family allegiances suddenly and unexpectedly called Claire home. Before they parted, they vowed that, no matter what, they would meet at the gazebo once a year. Now it's up to Abby to find out what drove these lovers apart, why they continued to meet over the decades, and where they are now.From the picturesque square in the center of a small town to the hotels, restaurants, museums, and boulevards of Paris, Florence, and London, Martin and Claire's story offers a voyage of discovery that transforms Abby Reston's own life. The Gazebo is a haunting tale of love and faithfulness that no reader will ever forget.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When elderly Martin Rayfiel walks into the office of the local newspaper's editor eager to share a poignant story of his past, he is not met with much enthusiasm. So he cleverly stashes the tale and its artifacts in the town gazebo, and sure enough the editor stumbles upon this invaluable cache of tapes, letters, and pictures and learns Martin's secret. Many years before, wealthy Martin and far less privileged Claire Swift fell deeply in love despite their class differences. Unable to keep their love a secret from the town gossips and their disapproving parents, they fled to Europe, promising each other that they would marry soon. But when an urgent message from Claire's sister forces her to return to their hometown, ensuing events ruin their plans for happiness. Grayson's gracefully written novel paints a vivid picture of young love and its strength to bind two hearts across both distance and time, and readers, like the enthralled newspaper editor, will find themselves taking a good look at their own lives and the choices they've made. Alexandra Shrake

Publisher's Weekly Review

The premise of Grayson's debut novel is that true love can be thwarted but never obliterated, but the unfolding of this particular romance may leave readers exasperated with characters who act more like victims of love than champions of it. As teenagers, Martin Rayfiel, scion of a wealthy family, and Claire Swift, who lives on the wrong side of the tracks, discover they are made for each other. They make a valiant effort to escape their social destinies, briefly defying everyone to pursue their dreams in Europe. When Claire is forced to return home to tend to her sick mother and Martin loses his inheritance, they reluctantly marry others. For 50 years, however, they have met once a year in the gazebo in the town square, to affirm their lifelong, and now platonic, love. As the story opens, Martin tries to interest Abby Reston, editor of the local paper, in the tale of their hapless romance, leaving Abby in possession of a briefcase filled with mementos and tapes documenting the vicissitudes of their lives. Grayson's decision to use Abby as a device to impart the account of the couple's history is intrusive and puzzling, an attempt to transform this tale into one of passionate heroics when Abby, galvanized by the chronicle, takes charge of her own life. Although she writes affecting scenes of the lovers' gentle intimacy and heartbreak, Grayson goes overboard in padding the narrative with details of seemingly insurmountable class differences. And while the contrived plot of this tale of love, loss and redemption asks for too much credulity, readers may be seduced by the descriptions of the characters' European sojourns and the weeper of a denouement. Rights sold to Columbia-TriStar for a TV movie; foreign rights sold in Finland, France, Germany, Holland and Italy. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Max and Claire are star-crossed lovers: he's a product of wealth and privilege, she is poor working class. Yet from their first meeting at age 17, they know they are meant for each other. Alas, after a blissful six months in Europe at age 21, real life intrudes. Claire returns home. Max remains in London. They pledge to reunite each May 27 at the gazebo in their hometown of Longwood Falls, NY. Which they do, for 50 years. The story is told through Max's eyes but also through newspaper editor Abby Reston's heart‘their love story is now in her hands. First novelist Grayson has written a sweet, sentimental tale that will make a five-hanky television movie but lacks memorable depth as a novel‘the story is too bland, too simplistic. Everything comes easy to the couple, even their lifelong separation. Best purchased as an eventual movie tie-in.‘Jodi L. Israel, Jamaica Plain, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.