A Dazzling, Multigenerational Novel In Which The Four Adult Daughters Of A Chicago Couple Still Madly In Love After Forty Years Recklessly Ignite Old Rivalries Until A Long Buried Secret Threatens To Shatter The Lives They Ve Built.When Marilyn Connolly And David Sorenson Fall In Love In The 1970s, They Are Blithely Ignorant Of All That S To Come By 2016, Their Four Radically Different Daughters Are Each In A State Of Unrest Wendy, Widowed Young, Soothes Herself With Booze And Younger Men Violet, A Litigator Turned Stay At Home Mom, Battles Anxiety And Self Doubt When The Darkest Part Of Her Past Resurfaces Liza, A Neurotic And Newly Tenured Professor, Finds Herself Pregnant With A Baby She S Not Sure She Wants By A Man She S Not Sure She Loves And Grace, The Dawdling Youngest Daughter, Begins Living A Lie That No One In Her Family Even Suspects Above It All, The Daughters Share The Lingering Fear That They Will Never Find A Love Quite Like Their Parents.As The Novel Moves Through The Tumultuous Year Following The Arrival Of Jonah Bendt Given Up By One Of The Daughters In A Closed Adoption Fifteen Years Before We Are Shown The Rich And Varied Tapestry Of The Sorensons Past Years Marred By Adolescence, Infidelity, And Resentment, But Also The Transcendent Moments Of Joy That Make Everything Else Worthwhile.Spanning Nearly Half A Century, And Set Against The Quintessential American Backdrop Of Chicago And Its Prospering Suburbs, Lombardo S Debut Explores The Triumphs And Burdens Of Love, The Fraught Tethers Of Parenthood And Sisterhood, And The Baffling Mixture Of Affection, Abhorrence, Resistance, And Submission We Feel For Those Closest To Us In Painting This Luminous Portrait Of A Family S Becoming, Lombardo Joins The Ranks Of Writers Such As Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, And Jonathan Franzen As Visionary Chroniclers Of Our Modern Lives. The author of this novel is an old soul Lombardo deeply understands marriage, sisterhood and plain old ordinary family dysfunction which is present on every character driven page From the outside, the parents marriage seems flawless Naturally, from the inside it is not without its peaks and valleys However, it is based upon a deep and abiding love that seems to be unattainable to their four daughters within their own lives Each of the sisters has their own crosses to bear For Wendy it is a combination of fate and disposition Violet has sisterly assistance in bringing about additional anxiety and messiness in her life Liza is neurotic and indecisive while the youngest, Grace, is simply lost and living a lie of her own making Other than an event which I found hard to fathom, this is a realistic and intimate look at an affluent Chicago family as they love, laugh, annoy, clash, and support each other over the course of forty odd years. So this one was maybe a 3.5 read for me It took me almost 2 weeks to finish this 500 page family saga If I m to be honest I found myself bored at times and absolutely enthralled at others There were times when I put the book down and read another book in its entirety before picking this one back up Yet, I felt compelled to see it through and finish I could see glimpses of myself in Marilyn and that was one of the main reasons why I continued turning the pages The Sorenson family was messy, full of both heartache and triumph and quite relatable in their interactions If family drama is your thing this one will pull you right in. An easy 5 stars for me This is about as good as character driven family sagas get I hope you have the ability to clear your schedule The Sorenson s will instantly grab you and won t let go until the very last page I love character driven family saga dramas and this one has plenty of everything A peek into a seemingly perfect marriage between the parents and the rollercoaster ride that is the lives of their FOUR daughters I think what I found so refreshing and relatable about this was how honest the depiction of their lives was It showed the good, the ugly, and the complexity of family relationships Siblings don t always get along and children don t always get along with their parents However, that doesn t mean that there isn t a loyalty and love there than lasts through everything This won t be a five star read for everyone because it does start to feel a little long although I can t really say what I would cut out so it was fine with me and I ve seen some reviews that gave up on the audio version I can see where this could be tedious at times to listen to plus, keep track of all the characters , but I think for a DEBUT, this was absolutely fantastic and I will be sure to continually recommend it Review Date 7 8 19Publication Date 6 25 19 Lombardo s character driven, eventful, tumultuous, witty, serious, gregarious, tragic, and infectious domestic dramady of a big Chicago family kept me fastened to the pages of this big, buoyant book Yes, it is a tome, but once you are installed in the story, it pulls you naturally along I cared and cringed and chuckled and cried with each of the four sisters and their parents and then there s the third gen of kids Each character was individualized and any one of them could have leaped off the pages How they lived and loved became all important to me as I folded myself into their days and years They crept into my heart it was like being a member of their family.Marilyn Connelly and David Sorensen met in the mid 70s during their undergrad days in Chicago and knew instinctively that they were meant to be husband and wife David became a family physician, and Marilyn left university when she got pregnant The novel covers 40 years of their lives, as their family grew large with four daughters Wendy, Violet, Liza, and the baby, Grace fifteen years younger than Wendy Violet and Wendy are a year apart Irish twins, the sisters who were the closest and developed a love hate relationship Liza was considered the middle child, and Grace was born on purpose, but everyone thought she was their Catholic accident in 1993 The current year is 2016, but the novel moves back and forth in time, mounting little mysteries and hints and integrating interlocking narratives Everyone has a storyline, independently and collectively And that includes the loose cannon, Jonah, given up for adoption by Violet as an infant and, at age 15, has resurfaced, to Violet s dismay.Wendy, the guarded, troubled, and most irreverent, sustains the lion s share of tragedies She keeps the wine close at hand and others at arm s length, and is most combative with Violet Violet has control issues, and has difficulty taking risks she resists interference in her perfectly chiseled life with her husband and two young sons Liza, now pregnant and a successful professor, has a severely depressed boyfriend who alternately sobs and sleeps Gracie, after graduating from Reed, in Portland, subsists in a boring job and tells an ever ripening fiction to her family She s confined her options and widened her lies Nobody was who they appeared to be everyone was struggling money didn t make a difference And, as Gracie believes, No one would ever regard her with the same enthusiastic awe as her mother the same feverish pride as her father As the story evolves, it is clear that the author created a prism for everyone s fractured perceptions, revolving memories, missed opportunities, and mixed blessings The shifting impressions and vacillating notions circle around and veer in sloping lines, caterwauling, twisting, tipping and turning Colleagues, outsiders, and even their children assume that David and Marilyn s love together is effortless perfection Nobody would truly comprehend their nuanced history and complexity, the intimacy of joining together before they could ever be alone But they agree it s the most fun they ever had And each child has a shared and personal history that we glimpse through a window or gaze through a curtain Resounding, the spirit of the narrative stirs with fractious dialogue and unfiltered warmth It was difficult to leave this family at the close of the story. Many thanks to Doubleday for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review Just a couple of young women looking into their future, back in that nice soft space where they fit seamlessly together, before the world had grown so much larger than their grasp For a book over five hundred pages long, this severely disappointed me Books that are this length are either a Stephen King novel or a book with a really good story Usually, a book this long means the author was made to choose between splitting their book into two parts of removing some chunks to make it fit into one It s strange that this book feels both too long and too short What I mean is, this thing is f king huge It s the thickest ARC I have Yet, when I came to the end, I didn t feel like I left with as much as I should have.Don t get me wrong It was enjoyable to get a decent family drama I loved slowly getting to know another fictional family and following each of them through their messy journey of life was fun although stressful at times I just repeatedly found myself wanting the book to be over Partly because I felt like it was just drama after drama but also because I feel like the overall plot could have been expressed at maybe 350 pages of less Another thing that hindered my enjoyment was how forgettable everything was I think it s because I ve been reading way too many family drama novels but I kept getting all the characters mixed up I couldn t keep track of anyone because of all the POV switches Even while writing this review, all the plot and data from the book is already culling inside my mind.That said, this was a very well written debut which obviously had a lot of work out into it For those who are willing to stick it out of having a long car trip coming up, I recommend this book Yes, it s lengthy but it s enjoyable and will definitely captivate other readers.Bottom Line 3 StarsAge Rating PG 13 Genre Drama Historical FictionTW Rape, Alcoholism, DepressionReps None Found Publication Date June 25th, 2019Publisher Doubleday Books Goodreads Blog Twitch Pinterest Diving into a 550 page novel as opposed to, say, a 300 page novel is the difference between a dalliance and a full blown commitment You have to really like these characters to spend time in their lives and inside their heads for days at a time It may not be the most fun you ve ever had, but it has to be darn close.So let s start here I liked the Sorenson family I liked its messiness, quirkiness, heartaches and triumphs And I didn t regret one single hour that I was immersed in their world.Marilyn and David are the fortunate couple who quickly intuit that they re right for each other and present a portraiture of stability and passion throughout the years Their four daughters must continually strive to replicate that kind of love in their own lives and each of them has her own challenges to overcome The oldest, Wendy, leaps out from the pages with her oversized personality and wry comments Her Irish twin Violet is far traditional and yoked to pursuing perfection in all she does Then there s Liza, a psychologist married to a depressed and tattoo sleeved software developer, and the youngest, Grace, who finds herself being left out of the sisterhood due to her last child standing The relationship among the four sisters pulses with authenticity Claire Lombardo writes, The only portrait you could ever get really of one sister from another, tinged inevitably with jealousy and double standards and affection as deep and intractable as marrow When Jonah, the love child of one of the sisters is suddenly thrust into their lives, some of the fault lines are widened All the tumultuous elements that come part and parcel of being a family are here the secrets, the illnesses, the childrearing, the unexpected happenings that knock down carefully planned lives.I did have a few quibbles The characters sometimes talk in staccato to a fault Example Hey honey, is Ryan_Has he or But they really You d be surprised how they grow on you It s authentic, yes, but also overdone There were some parts that were a stretch why would daughter Liza choose a chronically depressed partner who gave her little emotionally But these are, indeed, quibbles Claire Lombardo has the writing chops and her book is page turning 4.5 stars. I m a sucker for multigenerational family stories a la Commonwealth and this might be my favorite yet Lombardo s writing is stunning, so visceral yet beautiful that it s hard to believe it s a debut novel Her ability to depict the complicated and nuanced relationships that exist within families is wise beyond her years, the characters so sharply drawn you feel like you intimately know each of them At 532 pages, this book is not short, but I could have stayed with the Sorensons forever, so absorbed was I by this family No matter what size family unit you come from, you ll be able to relate to the complex, intricate, tangled relationships between siblings, parents, and lovers I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book Such a fun family drama Loved it This is one of the best reads of 2019, bar none I am calling it this book will win all of the awards Claire Lombardo is the next Kingsolver Here it is in writing, in January of 2019, and I can t wait to look back on this and know how right I was Lombardo s debut novel is truly a work of art It follows the Sorenson family, consisting of Marilyn and David the parents , and their four daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace Each character has their own personality, truly distinct and yet somehow envelopes that of all families It felt in a way as if my own family were being described, in how different we all are but yet how we come together and find ourselves bound together by blood The story is told in flashbacks, as well as present day, chapters alternating We witness the story unraveling, how the characters got to the point that they are now, almost as if a coming of age story for every single character individually and as a family unit Marilyn and David have an unparalleled love story that engulfed me, and gave me hope that my fiance and I have found what those two have And, it reminded me of my own parents, married now for 35 years and still as in love as they were the day that they met.Despite the privilege in which these characters are bread into, they have their own struggles No one is immune from mental illness, no one is immune from ill fated hardships, and it felt as though reading this book was seeing a very realistic and relatable family through a very raw, magnifying lens.I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book I am heartbroken that I have finished it, and wish I could read it again with the same lack of awareness as the first time I think a LOT of readers will resonate with one or characters in the novel, and the thematic elements that emerge through Lombardo s writing Lovers of Kingsolver s Unsheltered will love this piece of writing I know I did You know that feeling you get when you start a book and immediately know it s going to be special That was the feeling I had with The Most Fun We Ever Had and it was spot on Books that follow a group of characters over decades have always been the kind that speak to me in a special way, namely, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer a gold standard that I ve held many other books to over the years From the beginning, I realized that Most Fun would be a new standard for me, Lombardo has a way with words and creating characters that just leapt off the page Told in alternating chapters between present day and past, beginning with the marriage of David and Marilyn Sorenson and taking us well into adulthood with their four daughters, yes that s five women for David to contend with Most Fun tells the story of a family so familiar yet so dysfunctional at the same time, which let s face it, isn t that really how most families are Told in shifting perspectives from each of the characters, including daughters Wendy, Violet, Liza Grace, we got to know each family member well and truly understood the motives behind their actions And since they are not my children, I m free to say that Wendy was my absolute favorite Topping in at over 500 pages, Most Fun is absolutely un put down able Don t be intimidated by length, but rather, relish the opportunity to spend time with the Sorenson family I know I ll personally be eagerly awaiting what Claire Lombardo writes next Thank you to Doubleday Books for an advanced copy All opinions are my own.
- 532 pages
- The Most Fun We Ever Had
- Claire Lombardo
- 09 November 2018 Claire Lombardo