The Most Fun We Ever Had: A Novel (Hardcover)
July 2019 Indie Next List
“Claire Lombardo has written a rich and rewarding novel brimming with the messiness of families. Secrets kept and revealed provide a backdrop for the life-long love affair of Marilyn and David Sorenson as they raise their four daughters. The years are filled with joy, angst, anger, longing, and love as the members of the Sorenson family struggle to define their place among the ones who are nearest and dearest to their hearts. The Most Fun We Ever Had will resonate with all readers who have experienced and celebrated the chaotic love of family.”
— Betsy Von Kerens, The Bookworm of Omaha, Omaha, NE
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Ambitious and brilliantly written."--Jane Smiley, The Washington Post
"Outstanding...[the] literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler."--The Guardian
"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
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.
Named a most anticipated book of the summer by O Magazine, People, Chicago Tribune, NY Post, InStyle, Good Housekeeping, Daily Beast, PopSugar, and LitHub
"A rich, engrossing family saga, spiked with sisterly malice...[rendered] with such skill and finely tuned interest that it feels like a quiet subversion of the traditional family saga."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Ambitious and brilliantly written."
—Jane Smiley, The Washington Post
“If ever there were to be a literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler, then Claire Lombardo’s outstanding debut, which ranges from ebullience to despair by way of caustic but intense familial bonds, would be a worthy offspring…This is a novel epic in scope—emotionally, psychologically and narratively. Combining a broad thematic canvas with impressive emotional nuance, it’s an assured and highly enjoyable debut.”
“An assured first novel…The fun—well, that’s in the reading of the novel, which nicely blends comedy with pathos and the sharp- with the soft-edged.”
—Wall Street Journal
“The Most Fun We Ever Had is a remarkable first-time novel offering such an intimate picture of people’s interior lives I feel as if every one of these characters is now a close friend. Lombardo has the remarkable ability to delve into people’s minds so deeply that the most quotidian moments become utterly fascinating."
—Ruth Reichl, Los Angeles Times
“A wonderfully immersive read that packs more heart and heft than most first novels…A deliciously absorbing novel with—brace yourself—a tender and satisfyingly positive take on family.”
“The big family saga of the summer, unfurling the fallout of a long-buried secret and persisting rivalries between four sisters across 50 transformative years.”
“A sprawling, enchanting debut, this novel jumps back and forth across time to tell the story of one powerful, complicated, and utterly unforgettable family as they navigate love and loss.”
—Town and Country
"This juicy saga spans more than four decades…You’ll be glad this loopy family isn’t yours, but reading about them is a treat.”
“[A] satisfying multicourse feast.”
“A rich, complex family saga.”
“[A] brilliant debut.”
“A sharp, sly family story of feminine guile and guilt...A fun and brimming tale...Divine.”
“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.”
“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.”
“A sprawling drama that explores the maelstrom of love, resentment and tension of the nuclear family, and the ways in which a shared history can affect the future for years…Covering 40 years of Sorenson family strengths and foibles, The Most Fun We Ever Had is a classy but juicy read that always has one more surprise up its sleeve.”
"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
“Lombardo has a wry, often spiky humour and tightly written style that should appeal to fans of Maria Semple, Emma Straub and Jennifer Egan…A moving, immersive, often very funny study of family and sisterhood.”