This Last Kiss by Madeline Reiss

This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss

Article published on July 6, 2016.

Rora Raine is finally coming home to Hastings, twelve years after she left her grief-stricken father, and fled the love of her life, Carl.

Struggling to support her bright but troubled daughter, Rora has convinced herself she’ll never love again.

When she meets a bumblingly charming stranger, Rora’s heart begins to thaw.

Try as she might, she can’t run from true love forever.

Funny, warm-hearted and soaringly romantic, This Last Kiss is the redemptive story of two star-crossed lovers, told through each and every kiss they share.

As original as One Day and as heartbreaking as Me Before You, This Last Kiss is the perfect emotional and romantic read.


It’s International Kissing Day on 6 July so to get you in a romantic mood and encourage you to pucker up, author Madeleine Reiss gave us her top ten smooches, smackers and salutations in films, TV, paintings, poems and sculpture…


  1. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s Notorious.

At the time that this film was released in 1946 the movie industry’s Production Code prohibited celluloid kisses that lasted longer than 3 seconds. Hitchcock got around this stricture that would only have allowed for a brief peck, by ensuring that Bergman and Grant broke off from their clinch every few seconds. The result is a 2 and a half-minute sequence, which despite its restraint, has to be one of the most erotic kisses in movie history. They talk about what they are having for dinner, he makes a phone call, she sees him to the door and all the while they are touching and withdrawing like a kind of dance of love. In addition, Cary Grant is the best kisser of all time. Fact.


  1. Rachel Mcadams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook

What could have been sickly sweet is saved by the conviction and energy of the acting. All the romantic clichés are there- the rowing boat, the swarms of birds, the rain coming suddenly and unexpectedly and yet the kiss on the jetty is beautiful. The lovers abandon themselves to the rain and to each other. Allie’s hair has fallen from its stiff little chignon, Noah’s shirt is satisfactorily transparent and the music soars. The kiss is all the more effective because the couple have spent years apart, neither knowing why the other broke the relationship off. It is always the context of yearning finally fulfilled that makes for the best movie kisses. That and damp clothes, of course.


  1. Tim and Dawn in The Office Christmas Special.

This kiss is especially poignant because the viewer has waited for it for such a long time. Dawn has left the office Christmas party with her fiancée. Tim has dealt a masterstroke by giving her a set of paints as a Christmas present, which makes her realise that she cannot stay with her blunt nosed and somewhat oafish intended. Dawn walks back into the party room and without saying anything, kisses Tim to the strains of Only You by Yazoo. Their kiss is interrupted by the hapless Gareth, which only serves to make the kiss seem more real and more moving. You know for sure that this one is for keeps.


  1.  Lilian and Frances in The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Sarah Walters seldom puts a foot wrong but it is at the most intimate moments between her characters that you really understand just how good she is. In the scene when Lilian and Frances are sharing their first, forbidden kiss, the atmosphere positively crackles with desire. The beauty of this kiss is in the details- the coolness of skin, the silkiness of material, the urgency of knowing that at any moment they might be discovered. It is a precise and carefully controlled depiction of how lust feels.


  1. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The characters in Margaret Mitchell’s novel have been forever shaped by their depictions in the film version of the book and Scarlett and Rhett will always be Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, but the written version is still powerful, not least for Rhett’s delicious arrogance and Scarlett’s coquettish resistance.

“I want to make you faint. I will make you faint. You’ve had this coming to you for years. None of the fools you’ve known have kissed you like this–have they? Your precious Charles or Frank or your stupid Ashley–”

Rhett says and proceeds to kiss her in a way that makes one wish we too might be clutching a white hankie, dressed in brocade curtains, swooning in the embrace of the most dashing man ever to wear sideburns.


  1. Chagall’s The Birthday

The Birthday was painted in 1915 just before Marc Chagall married Bella. The artist’s wife was a source of inspiration to the painter throughout her life and even after her death and this is evident in this life affirming, joyful picture. The lovers are depicted floating above the ground in a state of ecstasy, the artist with his head turned at an awkward angle, almost wrapping himself around so that they face each other. The domestic details of the purse and the crockery on the table and the simple bunch of flowers in Bella’s hands ground this celebration of love in reality despite the dream-like quality of the painting.


  1. Brancusi’s Kiss 1910

The artist sculpted various versions of his marble lovers, but the 1910 one seems to encapsulate the very essence of love itself. Unlike Rodin’s white marble lovers, their lips not quite touching, Brancusi’s version is of a homely, almost lumpy couple. A simple line in the stone divides them and their lips are fused together in an eternal kiss. The sculpture represents how love endures and how the fleeting moment of a kiss lasts forever, out of time.


  1. V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

This iconic photograph has been reproduced so many times that it has become very familiar and the temptation is to let your eye skim over it. It is easy to forget just what an accomplished image it is. The background of smiling onlookers, the slightly blurred buildings in Times Square, the sharp contrast between the sailor’s dark uniform and the nurse’s crisp white one, the way she lies, almost resigned in his arms with one shoe kicked up, make it an arresting picture. The photographer claimed that the sailor was crossing the square kissing everyone he could get his hands on, so this was not a depiction of love, but rather a celebration of the end of the war with Japan and of being alive on that day, in that place.


  1. Kissing by Fleur Adcock

There are hundreds of poems that feature kisses, but I have chosen this one because of its apparent simplicity. In the first section of the poem a young couple walk beside a river. They live only in the moment and are “clamped together mouth to mouth” unaware of time passing. In the second section the older couple are having a stolen moment in the back of a taxi. There is still passion and sensuality in their kiss but it is more restrained, they are more aware perhaps of time passing. It’s a striking poem about how the kiss is a universal symbol of love and transcends age and time.


  1. Kiss by Prince

“I just want your extra time and your…kiss”

I had to end with this for the falsetto, the funkiness and the sheer gusto of the song. It makes you want to sing along. It makes you want to dance. Most of all, it makes you want to…kiss.


About the author

Madeleine Reiss was born in Athens. She worked for some years in an agency for street performers and comedians and then as a journalist and publicist. She has two sons and lives in Cambridge with her husband and her younger son. This Last Kiss is her second novel, her first novel, Someone to Watch Over Me won the People’s Novelist Competition.


This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss, published by Zaffre on 30 June, 2016 as a Paperback Original at £7.99




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