New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 * Washington Post Top 50 Fiction List for 2014 * Entertainment Weekly Ten Best Fiction Books of 2014 * Esquire 5 Most Important Books of 2014 * Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014 * One of Janet Maslin’s Ten Favorite Books of the Year in The New York Times
The instant New York Times bestseller the Washington Post calls a “stunning…superbly rendered” novel, and Entertainment Weekly describes as “a gripping family saga, maybe the best…since The Corrections.”
Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born.
Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.
Described by The New York Times Book Review as “A long, gorgeous epic, full of love and caring…one of the best novels you’ll read this year,” We Are Not Ourselves is a testament to our greatest desires and our greatest frailties. Through the lives of these characters, Thomas charts the story of the American Century. The result is, “stunning…The joys of this book are the joys of any classic work of literature—for that is what this is destined to become—superbly rendered small moments that capture both an individual life and the universality of that person’s experience” (The Washington Post).
In his powerful and significant debut novel, Thomas masterfully evokes one woman's life in the context of a brilliantly observed Irish working-class milieu. Eileen Tumulty was born in the early '40s, the only child and dutiful caretaker of alcoholic parents. As a young woman, she hopes to leave her family's dingy apartment in Woodside, Queens, and move up the social ladder. Eileen falls in love with and marries Ed Leary, a quiet neuroscientist whom she sees as the means to an upper-middle-class future. But Ed is dedicated to pure scientific research, and he turns down lucrative job offers from pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. The couple's apartment in Jackson Heights is a step up from Eileen's parents' apartment, but she wants a home in tony Westchester County. Later, Eileen pursues an arduous career as a nursing administrator to secure a future for their son, Connell. But once she gets her gracious but dilapidated fixer-upper in Bronxville, in southern Westchester, Ed is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, and the family slowly endures "the encroaching of a fathomless darkness." Thomas works on a large canvas to create a memorable depiction of Eileen's vibrant spirit, the intimacy of her love for Ed, and the desperate stoicism she exhibits as reality narrows her dreams. Her life, observed over a span of six decades, comes close to a definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the 20th century. Thomas's emotional truthfulness combines with the novel's texture and scope to create an unforgettable narrative.
Customer ReviewsSee All
We are not ourselves
Lovely, touching story. Only complaint is that it would have been a better read if the author had used 20 percent fewer words.
Nothing Out of the Ordinary
This book was well written and I read the entire book thinking something out of the ordinary was going to happen...and was disappointed. It’s really just the story of a typical middle class family in the greater New York area. Daily life, aspirations and disappointments, family issues, etc. most people I know could write a fictional account of their life that would be funnier, more heartfelt and more exciting to read. I will say that perhaps someone not familiar with a typical American life may find it more interesting.
Worth the read!
Thank you Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read this book. I received an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
This one was a rather long one and took me several days to get through it. I will finish my review after I have contemplated my thoughts on this novel.
I found myself not really liking some of the characters in this book. However, after reading further I did become more involved with them and truly ended up liking the story. It is REALLY long, but I feel as though it wasn't overly so. The story just took that long to tell and to help you get a real feel for the characters.