Four sisters lead messy, chaotic lives in this note-worthy debut. They envy the perceived perfection of their parents’ marriage but over a tumultuous year they discover not all is what it seems and that’s more than okay. These sisters and this author touched my heart. -Sydne, Atlanta
"Everything about this brilliant debut cuts deep: the humor, the wisdom, the pathos. Claire Lombardo writes like she's been doing it for a hundred years, and like she's been alive for a thousand." --Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple--still madly in love after forty years--recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they've built.
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.
About the Author
CLAIRE LOMBARDO earned her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. A former social worker, she now teaches fiction writing and is at work on a second novel.
"Everything about this brilliant debut cuts deep: the humor, the wisdom, the pathos. Claire Lombardo writes like she's been doing it for a hundred years, and like she's been alive for a thousand." —Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers "In The Most Fun We Ever Had, Claire Lombardo has given us a truly unforgettable American family. The book bristles on every page with intelligence and fierce wit. What a debut!" —Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Chances Are… “Lombardo's impressive debut is a gripping and poignant ode to a messy, loving family in all its glory. She juggles a huge cast of characters with seeming effortlessness, bringing each to life with humor, vividness and acute psychological insight.” —Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe
“What a splendid, spacious, gripping novel Claire Lombardo has written. These pages sparkle with wit and wisdom. I love the four difficult Sorenson daughters, each in the grip of her own emergencies. The Most Fun We Ever Had is a gorgeous and profound debut.” —Margot Livesey, author of Mercury
“Remarkably alive and wise, Claire Lombardo's story of the Sorensons is a stunning vision--not just of family or love, but the funny, tender mystery of human connection itself, with all its intensity, charm, and wonder.” —Affinity Konar, author of Mischling
“A sharp, sly family story of feminine guile and guilt...A fun and brimming tale...Divine.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lombardo captures the complexity of a large family with characters who light up the page with their competition, secrets, and worries…A rich and rewarding family saga.” —Publishers Weekly
“A family epic…It resembles other sprawling midwestern family dramas, like Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (2001)…The result is an affectionate, sharp, and eminently readable exploration of the challenges of love in its many forms.” —Booklist