A smart, comic page-turner about a Silicon Valley family in free fall over the course of one eventful summer from the author of Watch Me Disappear and the upcoming Pretty Things
When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for—until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, four hundred miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her newly famous actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her fledgling post-feminist magazine, Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home where her younger sister Lizzie, 14, is struggling with problems of her own. Formerly chubby, Lizzie has been enjoying her newfound popularity until some bathroom graffiti alerts her to the fact that she’s become the school slut.
The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating, addictive, and superbly accomplished, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy and intelligence and marks the debut of a knowing and very funny novelist, wise beyond her years.
An unexceptional reading makes the audio version of this satiric work of women's fiction a pleasantly neutral experience. Paul Miller's announcement of his intent to divorce his wife leaves his accomplished housewife-socialite feeling empty and purposeless. Meanwhile, 28-year-old daughter Margaret attempts to hide from the catastrophic failure of her feminist magazine, and 14-year-old Lizzie deals with the consequences of believing that having sex with six guys in three months will make her cool. Rebecca Lowman reads expressively and unobtrusively: she doesn't detract from the text, but she doesn't enhance it, either. This smooth abridgement is acceptable, if not particularly diverting. A Spiegel & Grau hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 7).