Title: The Most Fun We Ever Had

Author: Claire Lombardo

Pages: 544 Pages

Publisher: Doubleday Books

The Blurb

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 Review

Oh wow. Claire Lombardo’s book The Most Fun We Ever Had is a modern day sweeping family saga filled with drama, mystery, intrigue, and love.

The Most Fun We Ever Had focuses on the Connolly family: the parents, four daughters, and the assortment of grandchildren. It looks at the way in which we can never really fully know the people who we are most close to. We are only really allowed to know what the individual person allows us to know. It shows us how secrets can never be kept fully hidden; how eventually we will have to deal with the demons of our past.

It shows how fragile relationships between the ones you love can be. How loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have to like them.

Lombardo really has got inside the nooks and crannies of family life. She shows the nuances and drama can be both big and small and still have a massive impact.

The Most Fun We Ever Had is a novel to get fully invested in. It has the making of a Netflix series written all over it. Come on Reese Witherspoon – get this book optioned.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo is available now.

For more information regarding Claire Lombardo (@ClaireLombardo) please visit www.clairelombardo.com.

For more information regarding Doubleday Books (@DoubledayUK) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

The People We Were Before Book CoverThe Blurb

If war is madness, how can love survive?

Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.

The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.

War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.

There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

The Review

Wow. What can I say about The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe? My mind has been blown apart by this novel.

Ok, let’s start here:

I was born in 1983. I was raised in Liverpool and I have spent my years trying to consume as much information and knowledge as I could. Yet I knew nothing about the war in Kosovo. Sure I had heard about it on the news but I was too little to comprehend what was happening. This book, The People We Were Before, has changed that somewhat. I’m shocked at my ignorance of a genocide that took place in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nothing.

The People We Were Before could be described in many ways: a family saga, a romance, a thriller, historical fiction, war story. It cannot be pigeonholed into just one category.

Thorpe’s story focuses on Miro, a young boy whose family has just moved to the Dalmatian Coast with his family amidst the stirrings of political strife. The story develops along with Miro’s change from boy into man; the trials and tribulations that grown up life bring shakes Miro’s world to the very core and his life mirrors the chaos of the warzone that is developing in Dubrovnik.

Thorpe’s character development is tremendous. I truly felt the familial ties between Miro and his brother Goran, I enjoyed the friendships that Miro developed and I fell hopelessly for his love story with Dina. I became part of the story with them. When an author can so seamlessly transport me to another world I know that I am reading something pretty special.

Whilst normally I am a character driven reader it was the descriptions of the abject horrors of war that really packed a punch with me. The panic and the mayhem that Thorpe portrays in The People We Were Before is astounding. My heart was beating wildly throughout most of the book as I felt true panic for Miro and co.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is the most ambitious debut I have read in a long time and fortunately for Thorpe she delivers.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is available now.

5 Stars

The People We Were Before Tour Poster

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The final part in the A Place for Us series is like a giant hug. Over the four instalments we have fallen in love with this family, been saddened by their downfalls, heartened by their love stories, in awe of the strength of the cast of characters and basically come to see them as our extended family.

For me, I felt like I was sharing in their story, that I wasn’t just a reader absorbing the words on the page in front of me, or a fly on the wall secretly observing what was going on. I felt like I was a Winter. That is a really rare talent when a writer can make me feel inclusive of a story and whilst I have no complaints about how this story ended or what happened in the narrative I will admit that I want more. I know this goes against my devotion as a book lover but I would love to see this made into a TV series; I genuinely think it would translate well on screen.

Well done Harriet Evans, once again you did not let me down.

A Place for Us Part Four by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

A place for us part four

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The third part of A Place for Us has by far been the quietest; the family secrets did not fall thick and fast in this part of the novel, instead it has been a book of reflection. The family are still reeling from the shock revelation of Daisy and her wayward lifestyle and the death of Southpaw and as the family assess and take in these dramatic changes in their lives we realise that nothing can really, truly ever be the same at Winterfold.

Evans choice to make this part of A Place for Us decidedly low key was impressive. The tension had been gradually building over the first two parts and some reprieve was needed. The reflective tales of David’s past and about the sacrifices that he had made throughout the years made you appreciate this family unit all the more. Martha’s sadness at his passing was truly heartbreaking – especially as we see the family look upon her to guide them, to continue the matriarchal role that she once held so proudly, so strongly.

It is also through the memories encased in the close-knit family that helps unify them once more. The Winter’s have survived worse and as we head into the winter of this narrative we see the power that a unified family can have.

A Place for Us Part Three by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

a place for us part three

 

Title: A Place for Us: Part One

Author: Harriet Evans

Pages: 137 pages

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to Winterfold, the family home, everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

I love Harriet Evans. Never have I read a book by her and not been entranced and completely in love with the setting, the characters and the story. I was a little disappointed in myself that I found A Place for Us: Part One so difficult lose myself in. Don’t worry, it happened, just not as quickly as I had imagined it would.

Personally, I think I initially struggled with the multi-character perspective. This is not something I usually struggle with however, what I initially saw as a detriment actually turned out to be one of the great strengths of this book. Each character became distinctive. Their foibles and problems and desires and similarities became more and more evident as the tale went on. The everyday soap opera dramas juxtapose so easily with the long standing secrets making this book all the more intriguing.

The best way I can describe it is that A Place for Us is like going into the attic and finding a box of old photographs of people that look familiar that you don’t quite know. You try and piece together their story and it is only as more and more snapshots are revealed that you realise that you have an epic saga on your hands. That is what A Place for Us felt like for me.

I love stories that have the ability to make me want to be part of the featured family and help uncover the shocking familial revelations. I can honestly say that I have not read a saga like that in years – possibly since the Sweet Valley Sagas released in my teenage years.

Cleverly, Evans has serialised her novel which now has me chomping at the bit to read the next instalment. Well played, Harriet Evans. Well played, indeed.

All four instalments of A Place for Us by Harriet Evans are available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

A Place for Us Part One