A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick! “A richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming.” -- Meg Wolitzer
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Month by Goodreads • Lithub • Refinery29 • InStyle • HelloGiggles • Real Simple • Parade • PureWow • Bustle
A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love.
When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.
It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.
A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, The Last Romantics is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this winding domestic tale, Tara Conklin, author of the bestselling The House Girl, takes on heavy topics like depression and climate change with wit and gravity. Growing up in the early ’80s, the four Skinner siblings developed a strong bond when their father’s death caused their mother to drop out of the world entirely. Flash forward to climate-ravaged 2079, when one of the siblings—the thoughtful Fiona—has become a renowned poet. Fiona recounts her stories to a younger fan, digging into her siblings’ pasts with love and regret. With The Last Romantics, Conklin paints a tender portrait of the way familial bonds can overcome even the most painful challenges.
The accomplished second novel by the author of The House Girl throws a few unexpected twists into the well-worn story of evolving relationships among siblings. In the year 2079, 102-year-old poet Fiona Skinner looks back on a childhood marked by the sudden death of her father and the emotional withdrawal of her mother. During the years that her mother spent almost entirely in her room in their middle-class Connecticut neighborhood a period that Fiona and her three siblings call the Pause the siblings essentially raised each other, with observant, dreamy youngest child Fiona taking note of driven oldest daughter Renee, bubbly Caroline, and sweet, athletic Joe. As the years go on, the increasingly troubled Joe becomes the focus of both the novel and the attention of the other siblings. While Fiona who works at a nonprofit and publishes a blog, sardonically titled The Last Romantic, wryly detailing her sexual experiences with one man after another is the novel's key voice, it expands out to peek into the minds of the others, including the mother who becomes a staunch feminist after emerging from her cocoon. Conklin's plot avoids the predictable, and adds a new mystery each time an old one is solved, resulting in a clever novel.
You won’t want to stop reading…
I was captivated from the first page, and I read the book within a day, into the night. I just this second finished it, and my mind and heart are full, and searching. I’m searching all that I’ve read and trying to put it in order. I will think of this writing for a long time. I loved this book very much.
Written gracefully. Long-winded in many parts, then rushing to a neat wrap. But, why would a secret keep someone who would be so loved from those who long to connect with past love?
Family, Forgiveness, Future
I’m officially a Tara Conklin fan. Having read, The House Girl, I found repeat enjoyment in this novel. Beautifully written with pearls of wisdom and little nuggets of humor, it is a story of forgiveness, allowance, and potential seen through the eyes of those who suffer a devastating loss. The characters are well written with dimension. As with all good stories, the conclusion is extremely satisfying but the final page still leaves you craving more. I’m eager for Tara’s next project.