LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2020
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
'A literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler ... outstanding and highly enjoyable' Observer
'As good as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad; it is almost impossible to believe that it is a debut. The Most Fun We Ever Had is as good as books come' Telegraph
'I loved this book' Bryony Gordon
'The perfect, engrossing holiday read' RED
MEET THE SORENSON FAMILY
MARILYN has somehow fallen into motherhood and spent four decades married to
DAVID, who's pretty certain he loves her more than anyone has ever loved another person.
WENDY, their eldest, a cause for concern, soothes herself with drink after being widowed young,
while VIOLET, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mother, is disturbed by the reappearance of a son placed for adoption fifteen years earlier.
LIZA, a professor, is pregnant with a baby she's not sure she wants by a man she's not sure she loves
and GRACE, their dawdling youngest daughter, lives a lie that no one in her family suspects.
'A gripping and poignant ode to a messy, loving family in all its glory' Madeline Miller
'A moving, immersive, often very funny study of family and sisterhood' Sunday Times
'Like Meg Wolitzer. A forensic dissection of family past and present, I loved it. If you like reading about relationships, this one is for you.' Pandora Sykes
Lombardo's impressive debut follows the Sorenson clan physician David, wife Marilyn, and their four daughters: Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace through the 1970s to 2017. David and Marilyn raised the family in a rambling suburban Chicago house that belonged to Marilyn's father. The daughters find varying degrees of success in their professional lives but fail to find the passion and romance that their parents continue to have in their own marriage. Wendy is a wealthy widow with a foul mouth and a drinking problem. Violet is a former lawyer turned stay-at-home mother of two young sons. At 32, Liza is a tenured professor with a depressive boyfriend. The baby of the family, 20-something Grace, is the only one of the daughters to have moved away, and now lives in Oregon. The daughters' lives are in various stages of tumult: Wendy locates Jonah, the teenage son Violet gave up for adoption years prior; Violet struggles to integrate Jonah into her perfectly controlled life; Liza is shocked to discover she is pregnant; and Grace lies about being in law school after she was rejected. Lombardo captures the complexity of a large family with characters who light up the page with their competition, secrets, and worries. Despite its length and number of plotlines, the momentum never flags, making for a rich and rewarding family saga.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This is the first novel by Chicago-born Ms Lombardo, a social worker who took herself off to the Iowa Writer's Workshop to get an MFA.
It's a multigenerational family saga involving an upper middle class Chicago family: David and Marilyn Sorenson and their four daughters Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace.
David is a 60-something retired family medical practitioner, Marilyn owns and operates a hardware store.
Wendy is a rich widow in her late thirties fond of alcohol, drugs, younger men and sundry mischief making.
Violet is a lawyer married to another lawyer and now a stay-at-home mother to two toddler sons. She had another son out of wedlock 15 years before, and gave him up for adoption. But Jonah is back now.
Liza is a 32-year-old newly pregnant, recently tenured humanities academic. Her partner Ryan is unable to work due to depression.
Grace, 9 years younger than Liza, is living hand-to-mouth in Oregon while feeding her family at story about her non-existent acceptance into law school.
Character-driven domestic dramady follows, the narrative unfolding in chapters that rattle between the points of view of each protagonist, while moving backwards and forwards in time to supple backstory.
That sounds messy, but Ms Lombardo makes it work. In fact, she nails it. The book runs to 530 pages, and they fly by, the prose crisp, witty at times, deadly serious at others.
This is as good a first novel as I've read in a long time.