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We Are Not Ourselves | [Matthew Thomas]

We Are Not Ourselves

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 whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed. When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit.
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Publisher's Summary

Destined to be a classic, this "powerfully moving" (Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding) multigenerational debut novel of an Irish-American family is nothing short of a "masterwork". (Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End).

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 whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper 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.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell one another so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

©2014 Matthew Thomas (P)2014 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (480 )
5 star
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3.8 (415 )
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4.1 (414 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 11-29-14
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 11-29-14 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Profound Narrative of FantisizingTragedy, Regret"

    In this narrative story, there is no great mystery to resolve, no thrilling moments of climax. If these are things you need in a story, don't select this one. However, if you enjoy life stories and how the characters in these stories chart the direction of their lives, this is one you won't want to miss. Matthew Thomas has written a really good novel.

    This is a narrative (well performed by Mare Winningham) about a girl who works hard, has many life challenges and fantasizes about her future. As a woman, she cannot seem to stop the fantasizing about what might be in order to enjoy her present life. She is perpetually seeking perfection, or more, or different than she has in the moment; from her husband, son, neighbors, employers, friends. Eileen Leary cannot just live for the moment, enjoy the moment, and relish what is present instead of wishing for what might be. In the end, she has regrets. Many, many regrets. In the end, these things shape the future life of her son.

    Thomas' writing exposes us to how this obsession with "what might be" can shape lives and outlooks on life. Perhaps it is a life lesson neatly presented to us as "We Are Not Ourselves."

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yolkut Bronx, NY, United States 01-12-15
    Yolkut Bronx, NY, United States 01-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Beyond Depressing"

    This book was absurdly depressing. The first half was a little on the sad side, but manageable and then - WHAM - the second half makes you slog through the most depressing book ever. This title should come with a warning!!!!

    Granted, it's fabulous writing, but for me it wasn't worth it!!!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Perry Hall 02-12-15 Member Since 2015

    Seemingly hexed and often perplexed by the constant texting which I find most vexing

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    "Somber, Poignant Novel on Timely Topic"

    An elegiac novel to a committed wife/mother whose husband suffers early onset Alzheimer's. I could relate to her pain and loneliness as all the past and passion slowly slipped away and found particularly poignant her coping with the loss of her dreams of a dashing, successful professor husband with a beautiful home in the perfect suburb.

    A pure work of artistry in development of the characters of the wife, the husband and their son. My one complaint: it is a bit slow.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 08-25-14
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 08-25-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Outstanding Novel about a difficult subject"
    If you could sum up We Are Not Ourselves in three words, what would they be?

    empathy, sadness, reality


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eileen, because she was the energy of the three generations. She was the glue that connected her father to herself and to her son to become a teacher whhile managing a 51 year with Alzheimer's disease.


    Have you listened to any of Mare Winningham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    First one.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Ed's letter written to his son when he first learned about the disease not to be given to him until after his death.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was very good, but for me would have been just as effective without the sexual references. We all know about those and don't need the distraction. It is the only thing that might keep this book from being a Pulitzer.

    16 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-14-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A very enjoyable book."
    What made the experience of listening to We Are Not Ourselves the most enjoyable?

    The wonderful writing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author's writing, The language the writer used to weave the story was unbelievably beautiful and touching. Even the most mundane activity was described in a fascinating way.


    Have you listened to any of Mare Winningham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but her melodic performance brought out the writing in a beautiful way.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Our story will help you find who we should be, just as it did for us.


    Any additional comments?

    I can't wait to read another book by Matthew Thomas.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bernard 04-16-15
    Bernard 04-16-15
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    "Moving."

    Profound family saga. At first it feels as though the story is merely a recounting of the ordinary, but the reader comes to realize that is exactly what the author is trying to achieve. As the plot deepens, the characters develop and the reader is drawn to them with sympathy and understanding. It's impactful and quite moving,. This feels like real people dealing with real life problems. Well done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue 04-02-15
    RueRue 04-02-15

    RueRue

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    "Painful"

    A slooooow story, painful to listen to for many reasons - the deterioration of Ed, the frustrations of Eileen, the emotional detachment in the prose. There is a feeling of sadness throughout the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CPABookLover 02-05-15 Member Since 2012

    CPABookLover

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    "Perfect in every way"

    My mom has Alzheimer's and this book deceived so well the feelings and emotions. But this book is so much more than a story involving a character who develops Alzheimer's. It a story of deep, abiding and respectful love; dreams; disappointments. I loved this book so much. The narrator is fitting. Her voice gives Eileen a smoky quality that adds to the story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail 01-06-15
    Gail 01-06-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Engaging What Is"

    This is a wonderful story full of realism and a role model of relationship & engaging while clinging to self-preservation as a caregiver of several family elders with dementia.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam M Thomas 01-06-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Masterpiece"

    This novel goes to work on you from the very first page. If you are a fan of contemplative, searching literature then this is a must read. I was reminded of Saroyan's The Human Comedy because of how smoothly and subtly the author cut through and unwrappes memories of childhood and adolescence. I can't believe that this was the author's first novel; it will be hard to top.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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