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
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
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."
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!!!
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“We Are Not Ourselves” is about life in full; i.e. not just coming of age, adulthood, or death but the complete cycle of life. Its author, Matthew Thomas, is in his thirties when the book is published. He said it took him ten years to write it. It is a story of the baby boom generation, a generation from which Thomas is product more than participant. In spite of a generational difference, Thomas gets the story right; i.e. those of the baby boom generation will see themselves in Thomas’s novel.
Though the book is written by a man, the cycle of life is revealed by the character of a woman. The primary teller of the tale is Eileen Tumulty (narrated by Mare Winningham), the main character. Only in the last chapter, do we hear from an alter-ego of the author. It is the son of Eileen who becomes a teacher; a teacher of literature in his mid-thirties.
“We Are Not Ourselves” because life happens; i.e. parents are not perfect, children grow into their own adulthood, lives end, and life goes on. We are many selves created by the exigencies of life.
empathy, sadness, reality
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.
Ed's letter written to his son when he first learned about the disease not to be given to him until after his death.
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.
The wonderful writing.
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.
No, but her melodic performance brought out the writing in a beautiful way.
Our story will help you find who we should be, just as it did for us.
I can't wait to read another book by Matthew Thomas.
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.
I like books about relationships, but this lacked any dramatic tension. It was, frankly, boring. I kept listening hoping that something would happen. It was like listening to my own life, but less interesting. Pass on this and spend your time on something else.
Audible has saved my sanity in more ways than one.
very thought provoking
Eileen. Her strength in all situations, having to grow up so quickly, her work ethic, her perseverance.
Not that I can rememember.
Ed...his descent into losing his memory.
I have listened and read so very many books in this last year and I cant remember one that has stayed with me as long as this one has.
(Spoiler alert)The topic of Alzheimers is interesting to me as I am aging, and those around me are dealing with it within their families. But, it wasn't just that. It was the family dynamic between the main character Eileen, her husband Ed, and her son Collen(spelling?).
This book is so well written. As you enter the world of each character through the author's telling, and then hear about it, in the same way through another characters interpretation of the same- you realize, or at least remember, how different everyone's experience is in a family.
We are Not Ourselves follows the life of a woman and man, through their ups and downs, and their disappointments with each other. They have a boy, and they extend those circumstances as we all do in the raising of this child.
Before the characters in the story do, we begin to realize that something is wrong with Ed, and, well...that it is his mind--this most cherished part of his intellectual life.
What follows is such in incredible narrative of his descent, and the effect it has on all who surround him.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
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.
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.
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