When we last saw Albert Schmidt Esq. (“Schmidtie” to all near and dear), he had been expelled from paradise: his love Carrie, the Puerto Rican waitress 40 years his junior, had taken up with a blond giant nearer her age and possibly the father of her baby - assuming it isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, his only confirmed child, Charlotte, had proposed a truce in their perennially strained relations, which Schmidt accepted, despite its obliging him to resume dealings with her repulsive husband and her mother-in-law-cum-psychiatrist, whose life’s work has been turning Charlotte decisively against Schmidt.
The curtain rises on Schmidt Steps Back some 13 years later: New Year’s Eve 2008, the dawn of the age of Obama. Schmidt’s affection for the young president-elect is boundless, and as he imagines a better day for his country, he dares to hope there’s one for him too. It so happens Schmidtie is readying his Hamptons house for the visit of a lady from Paris: the irresistible Alice Verplanck, widow of his former law partner and surely a more appropriate prospect for a man now seventy-eight. But there’s a history, and it’s complicated. In fact, Schmidt hasn’t seen Alice since the summer of 1995, when he behaved like a brute upon discovering a betrayal of sorts and pronounced her unworthy of his unstinting love and commitment. Alice is finally ready to forgive him, but she still doubts that Schmidtie can ever be content. She demands that he think long and hard about their past, and while he’s at it Schmidtie finds himself also reviewing the reversals and tragedies that have brought him to an unimagined isolation and loneliness. With no family he can claim but Carrie, now married and expecting a second child, and only two real friends left - his college roommate Gil Blackman and the irrepressible billionaire Mike Mansour - Schmidt sees in Alice’s impending visit his last chance, before the sun sets on the Hamptons, for a life that is more than merely staying alive.
What did you love best about Schmidt Steps Back?
Extremely well narrated.
What did you like best about this story?
The setting both on the East Coast of the US and in Paris. The internal travails of the main character.
What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
It makes the entire story a lot more powerful, and humane...
If you could take any character from Schmidt Steps Back out to dinner, who would it be and why?
Mike Massour. He is one fascinating, funny character.
What made the experience of listening to Schmidt Steps Back the most enjoyable?
I loved the first Schmidt book (About Schmidt) and would strongly suggest that this one get listened to first. Both are very compelling and, as an old man with a somewhat jaded past, I identified with Schmidt in many ways. George Guidall is the most masterful reader and interpreter of these audiobooks in the business today. When I choose a book, I will always buy it if George is the reader.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Schmidt, of course. I am him in many ways; there were some life lessons for me in this book.
Have you listened to any of George Guidall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Many...this was among the best. The Dark Tower books were stupendous and all of the Vince Flynn books that he has read and truly amazing and involving. I love this guy!
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No way to do that.
Any additional comments?
Keepem' coming, Begley.