The Last Chairlift

In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor. Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees.

The author’s favorite tropes are here, but this meticulously plotted novel has powerful twists in store for readers. The Last Chairlift breaks new artistic ground for Irving, who has been called “among the very best storytellers at work today” (The Philadelphia Inquirer); “the American Balzac” (The Nation); and “the unsurpassed master of whirling plots” (NRC Handelsblad). With The Last Chairlift, readers will once again be in John Irving’s thrall.

ADVANCED REVIEWS

“Irving’s majestic latest, his first since Avenue of Mysteries (2015), is a multigenerational portrait as colorful and varied as it is complex and quirky.… Irving infuses the narrative with countless comedic set pieces, some farcical, others wistfully tender. The emotionally resonant result is sweepingly cinematic, reminding the reader that Irving has a screenwriting Oscar. Autobiographical snippets and splashes of brilliance buttress the themes of death and aging, memory and identity, in an elegiac testimony to the many facets of familial love.”

BOOKLIST

“Here the consistent pleasure is an extended family whose distinctive voices deliver thoughtful messages of tolerance, understanding, and affection for those who are different.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Irving is a staunch supporter and frank discusser of sexual minorities, sexual politics, and alternative families; here he handles them with grace and gusto. This time, he layers in skiing lore and ghosts among those core topics, creating a hefty heart-wrenching ghost story and family love story of the sort that only Irving can craft.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL