The Last Cruise

A Novel
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man comes a riveting high-seas adventure that combines Christensen's signature wit, irony, and humanity to create a striking and unforgettable vision of our times. 

The 1950s vintage ocean liner Queen Isabella is making her final voyage before heading to the scrapyard. For the guests on board, among them Christine Thorne, a former journalist turned Maine farmer, it's a chance to experience the bygone mid-20th century era of decadent luxury cruising, complete with fine dining, classic highballs, string quartets, and sophisticated jazz. Smoking is allowed but not cell phones - or children, for that matter. The Isabella sets sail from Long Beach, California, into calm seas on a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back. 

But this is the second decade of an uncertain new millennium, not the sunny, heedless '50s, and certain disquieting signs of strife and malfunction above and below decks intrude on the festivities. Down in the main galley, Mick Szabo, a battle-weary Hungarian executive sous-chef, watches escalating tensions among the crew. Meanwhile, Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist with the Sabra Quartet, becomes increasingly aware of the age-related vulnerabilities of the ship herself and the cynical corners cut by the cruise ship company, Cabaret.  

When a time of crisis begins, Christine, Mick, and Miriam find themselves facing the unknown together in an unexpected and startling test of their characters.

©2018 Kate Christensen (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Entertaining and elegantly written.... Kate Christensen demonstrates there's life to be found in what may appear to be the creakiest of fictional premises.... [She] is a sharp observer, not only of the layered social world of the Queen Isabella but of the shifting relationships between her characters...I kept thinking of Barbara Pym, another novelist who wrote astute novels about contained worlds. Like Pym - who has been described as the most under-rated writer of the 20th century - Christensen is easy to misjudge, but, as she demonstrates in The Last Cruise she's quite capable of navigating deep waters." (Maureen Corrigan, NPR) 

“A smart, fast-paced adventure story, two poignant love stories, and a shrewd and chilling warning to us all. What is not to love about The Last Cruise?” (Lily King, author of Euphoria

"Christensen is a master at drawing us into the interior lives of her characters, toeing the line between satire and sympathy...comedy and humiliation.... Having gathered these disparate people together, Christensen gently rolls and pitches the stage, dislodging stones of sadness that had been safely stuck in the crevices of their everyday lives. That discombobulation is the key to the story's appeal, its unstable mix of romantic comedy, class oppression and spiritual angst - as though Cynthia Ozick wrote an episode of 'The Love Boat.' Christensen also deconstructs the aura of the cruise ship.... Mysterious and existential.... She’s interested in the most intimate and profound changes we’re willing to make only when tossed by the tempest of life." (Ron Charles, The Washington Post

What listeners say about The Last Cruise

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Totally enjoyable listen!

A great story of three lives entwined. Three stories woven into a compelling tale. I can’t say more without hinting at a spoiler. Great narration.

3 people found this helpful

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A truly great novel.

This book so consumed me, that I feel lost having finished it. The depth of characters, the nuance and texture of scene and experience became more real than my own existence. Life aboard the ship is richly explored, in its claustrophobic social hierarchy. Ultimately this “Upstairs/Downstairs” explodes, and the denizens of the ship find themselves in a floating dystopia, which encapsulates in miniature all the grievances, desires, essential needs, and limited resources of our entire planet. This novel is profound without being preachy. One is drawn right in by the engaging characters and the immediacy of the action. The dialogue and action play out like a good movie; and the narration is excellent.

5 people found this helpful

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cheesy

Like reading a cheesy romance novel. Kept me listening but too easy to tune it out because it was so boring at times

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

The character development was very good. I would have given it five but the ending was lacking in what I needed for closure regarding the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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Last Voyage for the Queen Isabella

Troubles abound during the last trip of a 1950s cruise ship. The good, bad and ugly surface for the crew and guests. I enjoyed the interactions of the small group of musicians from Israel the most.

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Are you kidding me ???

The story was good but a bit draggy . The narration was good too but the ending ???? Seriously ? How could the author do that to leave you hanging like that? I mean that blew it . So only three stars .

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WTF ending ...

Great narrator. Story was slow in parts. Ending was cheesy and abrupt.
Could’ve been so much better

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Luxury's sharp edge plus even sharper love stories

Such a compelling portrait of beautiful, brutal America! What would happen if you got to luxuriate in a one-percenter's little folly, but weren't one of them? Who do you, and your integrity, become when something goes wrong? The newest novel from the fiercely intelligent Kate Christensen (one of this country's most consistently interesting writers) gives us several unlikely heroes who are just like us: smart, talented women and men struggling to survive in the new America and the turbulent wake of international corporate power.

The turquoise waters are delightful, but like anything in excess they also hide danger and despair. The tension here is not mortal: it is, like all of Christensen's books, moral. And so wonderfully complex. She refuses to deal in easy stereotypes: no one is simply good or bad. She lures us into this cruise with a delightfully stylish premise, all exquisite food and glamorous settings and vivid characters. Then she turns it all on its head to follow the money. And while chaos threatens, she deftly develops two of the most memorable romances I've ever enjoyed.



The narrator is very good, for male voices. I've given only 4 stars simply because there were so many interesting female characters, of all ages, that I found myself longing for a female voice, or at least a less rumbly male voice.

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Loved it!

Did not want it to end. Loved all the well developed characters! The
Narrator was excellent.

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Great story

Well written characters and plot. The narrator did an excellent job. He made me feel everything they were going through