(Unofficially) Peter S. Beagle

A Dance For Emilia

A Dance For Emilia
by Peter S. Beagle
Published by Roc / Penguin Putnam
October, 2000

This small (87 page) gift-sized book is an absolute gem. Emilia touched me more deeply in the short time I read it than many other books four times its size.

Sam and Jacob are middle aged performers - Sam was a dancer in his younger years and now lives in New York as a critic, and Jacob has found some success in California theater.

When Sam dies, Jacob is confronted with the loss of a friend whom he'd planned to grow old with. Jacob travels back east to attend the funeral and meets Emilia, Sam's girlfriend who also inherited Sam's cat Millamant.

Jacob and Emilia begin to correspond by mail, mostly talking about their memories of Sam. Their love for him is so powerful and their grief at their loss so overwhelming that... well, read the book.

I think this is one of the more bittersweet and heartwrenching tales PSB has written. It brings to mind the wrenching emotions found towards the end of The Last Unicorn, except that I think many people would react as Jacob and Emilia do, and go through the same range of conflicting desires.


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