Cover Image: The Most Fun We Ever Had

The Most Fun We Ever Had

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Member Reviews

An amazing story that perfectly depicts the complexity of family and the relationships that lie within. A beautiful debut. Can’t wait to read more by the author!
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I had really high hopes for this book, given how many prize lists it is on. But sadly it just didn't live up to any of my expectations.
I understand the need for unlikeable characters but when every single character is as unlikeable as they are in this, it makes it incredibly difficult for me to really care or feel invested in what is happening.
I struggled through this, mostly because of the slow plot and how heavily character driven this is.
I have seen others rave about this, giving it 5 stars, so maybe this just wasn't the type of book for me. But I was really disappointed with it.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a captivating novel about the lives, struggles and relationships between the members of the Sorensen family - the parents, the four daughters and one of the daughter's illegitimate son. It is told from the perspective of all seven characters throughout several decades from the 1970's to the present. I was really captivated by the story and it made me think about my own family.
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A family saga covering decades and told through multiple narratives; husband and wife, their four grown children, and a fifteen year old grandson. For me if you don't like family saga's that are five hundred plus pages then, this book probably isn't for you. At times it feels like there isn't so much going on, and at times it feels a little tedious, but the characters are so engaging. Their attributes and flaws keep you invested and you end up feeling like you're someone in the background, there watching them as you read.

Themes of alcoholism, grief, depression, infidelity, jealousy, resentment and of course a bundle of secrets divulge. Real life goings on make saga's like this relatable, endearing, and rather comforting too. 

This novel was the perfect dysfunctional family read that has you laughing, crying and hoping. For fans of The Thorn Birds, I would say this is the book for you!
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I have quite mixed feelings about this novel and would rank it around 3.5 stars overall,  I both read and listened to it intensively over the course of a week in which I was keen to take my mind off real life problems, and it did achieve that once I got into it.  Despite being far too long, it held my interest for the most part but that wasn't because of any great investment in the characters, most of them (Violet in particular) astonishingly self-absorbed, prone to self-pity and lacking awareness.  The arrival of Jonah around the halfway point (I'm guessing, it felt around then) is probably what kept me reading - he injects a much needed alternative perspective and some humour.  There are moments of insight and reflection about marriage, life, parenthood, etc which are poignant on the page but somehow don't animate the story or characters - there's not a lot of development from beginninig to end.  A couple of supposedly loaded acts of deceit or betrayal didn't feel as significant as they were made out to be.  Stylistically rather overwritten and (for my taste) saccharine.  For all that, I'd say give it a go if family sagas are your thing - it's a decent summer read, not the stuff of literary prizes.
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This book was right up my street.  A family a saga with lots of flawed but relatable characters.  The story follows Marilyn and David who meet as young college students and fall in love. They have a 4 daughters who bring them joy, anxiety and everything in between. 
It is long but don’t be put off by it.  It never felt like it dragged.  I loved it!
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I had such high hopes for this book but it was just so boring. 
It lacked a plot and there was no depth at all.  Very disappointing
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I loved this big, warm-hearted book and would highly recommend it. While reading it,  I almost felt that the Sorensons became part of my family! It’s an honest, searching look at a happy couple, David and Marilyn, and their four daughters, and all the ups and downs of family life, and is beautifully written. The narrative drew me in and I loved the way it jumped seamlessly from one event to the next, going back and forwards in the lives of these characters. The dialogue is sharp and often funny. I loved the way the sisters interact with each other. It’s a wonderful read and although it’s quite a long book, I savoured every word and flew through the pages as it’s so good!
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Where to begin with this meaty family saga?
Beautifully written, it started as a slow burn and I had a little trouble distinguishing the characters. 
But I was soon hooked and enmeshed in the lives of Marilyn and David and their four adult daughters. 
Set in the present, but also dipping into the past, you get to know the very different Sorensen girls and the return of a child - given up at birth but now a teenager - into Violet’s life.
Each daughter has her own problems and struggles to recreate the perfection of her parents’ marriage. 
Lombardo’s writing luxuriates in the space it’s given: this is a long novel but really fulfilling. 
In short, I really loved it and feel a little bereft now it’s over.
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The is a tale of families at their best. Loved all the characters. So well described. I loved the little details the writer added to enhance the readers understanding. I kind of want another book to see what happens next.
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Claire Lombardo's debut is a fascinating epic character driven, multi-generational Chicago family drama with all its complexities through the decades from the 1970s. Marilyn Connelly and David Sorenson's love for each other has more than survived the decades, they have 4 now adult daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza and Grace who have felt pressured to emulate the loving example of their parents. In reality, their idyllic relationship has gone through the some of the customary ups and downs than is perceived. In a narrative that shifts between past and present, there are complicated, flawed and tangled relationships, resentments, jealousies, births, marriages, deaths, turbulence, messiness, infidelities, mental health issues, secrets, lies, love, loss, surprises and life's challenges that their wealth cannot insulate them from. Into this family arrives Jonah, the son Violet had given birth to and then had adopted, whose presence is much needed by the family as can be seen in the impact he has. This is a emotionally engaging read, if overlong, well written, with great character development, and which resonates in its detailed and often realistic depiction of family life and dynamics. Many thanks to Orion.
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If you have found yourself engrossed in the fictional worlds that Anne Tyler, Jonathan Franzen and the late Carol Shields so convincingly create, then you will doubtless become immersed in the messy, busy, troubled, loving, complex lives of David and Marilyn Sorensen and their four daughters.  Through them Claire Lombardo explores, amongst many other issues, what it is to be a family, how sibling rivalry casts a long shadow, and how we react to responsibility in her lengthy debut novel.
Whilst Dr and Mrs Sorensen are seen by their daughters as ridiculously in love, perhaps a little too in love to be really interested in their progeny, the latter find it difficult to behave well towards each other.  Eldest daughter Wendy and her Irish twin (Is this nomenclature really still acceptable?), Violet, are forever fighting and yet they trust each other with their secrets.  Liza is clever, generous and kind and yet can’t imagine being a ‘good enough’ mother herself.  Grace, the youngest, feels overlooked and a failure.  Lombardo takes us back and forth over the course of their lives, and even a little before when David and Marilyn first meet.  The character of Jonah, immersed in the family and yet apart, is not just a decent young man, perhaps a little like his grandfather, but is also a useful narrative device in which to look at the Sorensens from another perspective.  Gradually the jigsaw pieces fit to reveal a clearer picture of who these people are and why they behave as they do.  Whilst some readers might balk at their less attractive attributes, in my view it makes them more credible.  
That this is Lombardo’s first novel is impressive.  Her ear for dialogue is remarkable and her characters feel authentic, notwithstanding my unfamiliarity with their cultural background: wealthy; white; Middle America.  I look forward to her second, hoping that she will focus more on some of the social and political issues of our times through what her characters say and do.
My thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
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A family saga that transcends multiple generations, The Most Fun We Ever Had is a book full of surprises.

Through the Sorensen family, Marilyn and David and their four daughters, Clare Lombardo explores a whole raft of themes, from growing pains, finding out who you are and soul searching, to the pleasures and pains of motherhood, to mental health and depression, to loss and grief. Each of the fours sisters, born over a span of 15 years, all have their own unique trials and tribulations to face, each feels like the failure of the family, as if the others are more successful in some respect, whether it is career, motherhood or relationships.

The overarching moral of this book is that everyone has their problems, even when the surface doesn't betray it. It is a stark warning against comparing your life to that of others, since, as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that the four young women struggle to live up to what they see as the perfection of their parents relationship. Occasionally It seems a bit glib, a convenient plot device and the trouble of the privileged, but it does sustain a quiet, knowing humour through the book. And significantly, Lombardo's point is that struggle, difficulty and tragedy can affect everyone.

This novel is funning moving, compellingly dramatic, and as its title purports, an awful lot of fun. The relationships will make you smile to yourself, the love the characters share will warm your heart. Not everything works out perfectly, but neither does life, and the little microcosm of life that Lombardo creates is no different.
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Set in Chicago, The Most Fun We Ever Had, Claire Lombardo's debut, follows Marilyn and David Sorenson and their four adult daughters through a turbulent year as their second oldest daughter reveals that she once had a baby, Jonah, that she gave up for adoption, and that he’s now a homeless teenager who’s been unceremoniously dumped back into their lives. I’d been told that Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is In Trouble was about a group of unlikeable people, but the Sorensons easily win that contest; none of them appear to have any redeeming features whatsoever except perhaps the two youngest daughters, Lisa and Grace, and even then, I had problems with both characters. The parents project an image of a close, romantic couple who care deeply for their children, but their family is blinkered by privilege, horrible to anybody who doesn’t fit their precise standards of what is acceptable, and almost as nasty to each other. A cleverer novelist like Lionel Shriver would have torn this apart, but Lombardo’s writing just bobs along. I believe she’s aware of how unpleasant her characters are – indeed, Jonah’s presence in the novel seems to have been engineered to give us an outside perspective on these people – but she never does anything with it. I actually found this quite a fun, trashy read, so I guess in that sense, it does have a point, but it’s not a novel that should be anywhere near prize lists.
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If you enjoyed A Modern Family by Helga Flatland, you will love this, which luckily for me I did! It is a family led drama, so if you’re looking for a fast paced plot with lots of twists and turns this isn’t the book. Instead this book is driven by the characters, their personalities and their relationships. I adore this kind of book when it is done correctly, and this is one of those books! I loved looking at mum and dad- their relationship with each other and with their children. The honesty of family life is what makes this so special, looking at how within a family there are many dynamics and not everybody feels the same way about everybody else. A great read.
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This début by Claire Lombardo is an easy 5 stars for me. The Most Fun We Ever Had is about as good as character driven family sagas can be!

I love character driven family saga/dramas and this one certainly has its fair share of everything. It takes a long glimpse into the seemingly perfect marriage of the parents, Marilyn and David Sorenson, and riffles through lives of their FOUR daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza and Grace.

This was a standout novel for me as I found it so refreshing and honest regarding the depiction of the Sorenson family's lives. I felt a strong connection to the family as it showcased the greatness, the ugliness, and the complexity of family relationships. Siblings don't always get along together and children don't always bond with their parents. 

Funny and poignant, it took me a while to get through, but I didn't mind because it allowed me to spend more time with these fabulous characters, and I had a blast devouring it. 

There is so much that could be said about The Most Fun We Ever Had, but the important things for me were the abundance of wisdom, wit and pure glee.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Orion via NetGalley at my request, and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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I think I need to accept the fact that large scale family saga books just aren’t the genre for me. 

I think my main issue with this is the fact that it’s heavily character driven, with a very slow plot and I just wasn’t invested in any of the characters. I struggled to warm to any of them, finding them all pretty shallow and one dimensional without any memorable moments. In fact, since reading it I’m struggling to remember a lot of the plot. It just does not need to be as long as it is, and could have packed way more of an emotional punch if the pacing was quicker and the dramas were snappier. 

The slow pace and unappealing characters just meant I wasn’t into this. I just don’t think that I’m the target audience, as I like plot driven novels.
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This author might just fill the gaps for me between Ann Tyler books! I mean no disrespect in this - I LOVE Ann Tyler and I think Ms Lombado brings something new to a genre that Ann Tyler has made her own - the american family novel. I found this book really enjoyable, thought provoking and beautifully written. Love you for that ARC netgalley - ta very much!
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David and Marilyn Sorensen have four daughters, and are very happily married. In fact, they love each other so much it impacts negatively on their daughters. Nothing can ever compete with their love. The relationships between the sisters is complicated to begin with, and then Wendy, the eldest, hurls a bomb into the family.
Wendy has tracked down the son that her sister Violet gave up for adoption when she was young. Violet now has a supposedly perfect life with a rich husband and two young children. She cannot cope with the appearance of her teenage son, and he is bounced around the Sorenson family like a hot potato. Liza is an academic, married to a useless depressive. Grace, the youngest, is lost, and ends up hiding for most of the novel after telling a lie under pressure.
The Most Fun We Ever Had is a very impressive and expansive family story made up of real, complicated, people. It is a joy.
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This book is the story of the Sorenson family - told over several decades. David and Marilyn meet in the seventies and fall in love and go on to have four daughters - Wendy, Violet, Liza and Grace. Their story is told throughout the book.
It’s a story of a family and their life and all that happens to them. I enjoyed the way the story was laid out - following the different characters in a vaguely chronological order.
The characters were well developed and I felt I could identify with some whilst being irritated by others - which is what happens in life.
The way the author writes is reminiscent of Anne Tyler, which is always a good thing. The book was long but kept me engaged throughout and I could have read more.
I look forward to future offerings by this fine author.
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