September 14, 2021

The Most Fun We Ever Had

 

Fiction
2019 Random House Audio
Narrated by Emily Rankin
Length: 20 hrs and 33 mins
Finished on September 4, 2021
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A 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 Sorenson's past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

I'm truly surprised that I loved this book as much as I did! I went into it with some trepidation, concerned that it had been over-hyped, much in the way two fairly recent reads (Normal People by Sally Rooney and Anxious People by Fredrik Backman) had been gushed over. Last year a blogging friend (JoAnn of Gulfside Musings) spoke highly of Lombardo's novel and while JoAnn and I aren't true reading twins, we have agreed on several books. This is most definitely one of them!

I listened to the audio edition of Lombardo's debut novel over the course of almost a month (it's over 500 pages in print and 20+ hours on audio) and found it very engaging, eager to get outside on my walks and continue listening. I came to care about the Sorenson family, warts and all. Wendy's caustic criticism and verbal cruelty had me shaking my head in exasperation, wanting to shake her for her rude behavior, until I learned the underlying reasons for her emotional pain. Jonah's tenderness toward his half-brothers tugged at my heartstrings and there were other instances of kindness between other family members that brought a tear to my eye.  Emily Rankin does a superb job reading this multi-generational story and I will seek out more audiobooks narrated by her. 

The Most Fun We Ever Had was an unexpected surprise and had I read the print edition, this richly satisfying book would have found its way to my permanent collection of favorites.  If family dramas similar to The Arrivals (Meg Mitchell Moore), The Children's Crusade (Ann Packer) and Ask Again, Yes (Mary Beth Keane) are your cup of tea, you don't want to miss this one. I hope Lombardo is busy writing another novel!

16 comments:

  1. Great review, makes me want to get a copy, but 20 hrs.? With the reading slump I'm in it would take me 2 months, maybe more.

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    1. Vicki, it took me almost a month to listen to, but it was well worth the time spent. I only listen while I walk (or run the occasional errand), so I'm fairly certain that I would have finished it more quickly had I read the print edition. Give it a try!

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  2. This is one I meant to read for a while, I do remember that JoAnn loved it as well. Now - print or audio. I'm assuming there wern't too many characters to make it confusing on audio?

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    1. Diane, I really enjoyed the audio and no, there wasn't a huge amount of characters. Maybe eight main and a half dozen supporting.

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  3. Thank you for this review, Les. I've been thinking about reading it ever since I saw JoAnn's thoughts about it.

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    1. It was very enjoyable, Deb. I'm glad I read JoAnn's review since I haven't seen any mention of it since then.

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  4. Reading your review makes me want to reread this novel! It was one of my favorites last year... as was Ask Again, Yes in 2019. I'm adding The Arrivals and The Children's Crusade to my list. Great review, Les.

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    1. Thank you, thank you, JoAnn, for recommending such a great book! I would have given it a perfect 5-star rating, but I didn't have any exceptional passages to note, which is one of my requirements for a perfect rating. Maybe if I had read the print edition, I'd have found a few to share. It will definitely be on my Best Of list for 2021. I can't wait to hear what you think of The Arrivals and The Children's Crusade. I'd love to reread The Arrivals and may just have to order a copy for my stacks.

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  5. I remember really liking The Arrivals. Putting this one on my list for maybe a read/listen.

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    1. I think this may be one you enjoy too, Kay. As I mentioned to JoAnn, I really want to reread The Arrivals. Such a good book about family relationships.

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  6. I love the cover, and I'm interested in this one. Thanks for the update. :)

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    1. Isn't it a pretty cover, Jenclair? Those are ginko leaves, which play a part in the story. Enjoy!

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  7. I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds good. I am so glad you loved it, that's such a great feeling.

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    1. This book may have slipped under the radar of many readers, Helen. I don't think I heard much about it until I read JoAnn's review. It is such a great feeling to read and enjoy a book so well, isn't it?

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  8. Oh, I must read this! The premise is fascinating. My parents were madly in love for 71 years until their passing six months apart last year. That's a hard act to follow. I'm going to look for this book now!

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    1. Oh, I hope you enjoy it, Laurel! The two main characters (Marilyn and David) were madly in love, too. Wow. Your parents sure enjoyed a long, happy marriage, didn't they? My husband and I haven't even been married half that time. Coming up on our 33rd anniversary!

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