Charles, a once-promising poet, is a professor at a minor liberal arts college, admiring of passion but without passion himself. Now living a desperately comfortable existence, he decides to return to his thirtieth college reunion. While there, he relives an intense love affair he had with a beautiful ballerina that forever changed his life. At times shocked, admiring, and furious with his younger self, Charles remembers contradictory versions of events, until reality and identity dissolve into a haze of illusion. Reunion explores the pain of self-examination, the clay-like nature of memory, and the fatal power of first love.
Lightman's delicate prose turns what might have been a ho-hum subject into a fascinating study. Charles's sojourn among the ghosts of his senior year leaves him a sadder but wiser man -- as well as one who can, at long last, feel. Sanford Pinsker