Cover image for The last romantics : a novel
Title:
The last romantics : a novel
Title:
The last romantics : a novel
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publisher Info:
New York, NY, U.S.A. : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2019]
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time. It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings--fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona--emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they've made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories--how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.
Geographic Term:

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FIC CONK New or Popular Adult Fiction Book
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F CONK New or Popular Adult Fiction Book
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CONKLIN, T. New or Popular Adult Fiction Book
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Summary

Summary

"Tara Conklin is a generous writer who deftly brings us into the world of this fictional family, an engrossing and vivid place where I was happy to stay. The Last Romantics is a richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming." -- Meg Wolitzer

The New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl explores the lives of four siblings in this ambitious and absorbing novel in the vein of Commonwealth and The Interestings.



"The greatest works of poetry, what makes each of us a poet, are the stories we tell about ourselves. We create them out of family and blood and friends and love and hate and what we've read and watched and witnessed. Longing and regret, illness, broken bones, broken hearts, achievements, money won and lost, palm readings and visions. We tell these stories until we believe them."

When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings--fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona--emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they've made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose--and sometimes rescue--the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories--how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.


Author Notes

Tara Conklin received a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate law firm. Her short fiction has appeared in The Bristol Prize Anthology and Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe. Her debut novel, The House Girl, was published in 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The accomplished second novel by the author of The House Girl throws a few unexpected twists into the well-worn story of evolving relationships among siblings. In the year 2079, 102-year-old poet Fiona Skinner looks back on a childhood marked by the sudden death of her father and the emotional withdrawal of her mother. During the years that her mother spent almost entirely in her room in their middle-class Connecticut neighborhood-a period that Fiona and her three siblings call the Pause-the siblings essentially raised each other, with observant, dreamy youngest child Fiona taking note of driven oldest daughter Renee, bubbly Caroline, and sweet, athletic Joe. As the years go on, the increasingly troubled Joe becomes the focus of both the novel and the attention of the other siblings. While Fiona-who works at a nonprofit and publishes a blog, sardonically titled The Last Romantic, wryly detailing her sexual experiences with one man after another-is the novel's key voice, it expands out to peek into the minds of the others, including the mother who becomes a staunch feminist after emerging from her cocoon. Conklin's plot avoids the predictable, and adds a new mystery each time an old one is solved, resulting in a clever novel. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

No family is perfect. No one truly knows what's happening behind closed doors unless they're there, a part of it from the beginning. Conklin (The House Girl, 2013) captures these truths with honesty and seeming ease in her second novel, a beautifully written story of four siblings' love for one another across their entire lives. Sibling relationships are exposed in their truest forms as Renee, Caroline, Joe, and Fiona Skinner fall in and out of love with each other over a lifetime. Bound together early in life by both blood and tragedy, they find solace and security in childhood summers spent at a neighborhood pond. These early memories shape their lives and future relationships, and when tragedy strikes again years later, the siblings are once again forced to either sink or swim together. Despite spanning almost a century, The Last Romantics never feels rushed. Conklin places readers in the center of the Skinner family, moving back and forth in time and allowing waves of emotion to slowly uncurl. Perfectly paced, affecting fiction.--Melissa Norstedt Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Conklin's sophomore effort (following The House Girl) recounts the complex but loving relationships of four siblings whose lives are irrevocably changed after their father dies unexpectedly when they're children, ranging in age from four to 11. Their mother sinks into depression and leaves them to fend for themselves for three years. Elder sister Renee shoulders the majority of the burden and takes this sense of responsibility into a career as a surgeon. Caroline seeks traditional marriage and motherhood at the expense of personal fulfillment, until later in life. Joe, the beloved only brother, becomes the focus of attention and promise for the whole family; his demons are ignored or dismissed until too late. Fiona, the youngest, eventually a celebrated poet, serves as the omniscient narrator. Another family tragedy leads them all to reexamine their lives and their relationships and the impact their early loss had on them. A somewhat implausible framing device, set in the year 2079, serves little purpose, except perhaps to explain the occasional anachronisms and time line inconsistencies that could have been caught by more careful editing. VERDICT Structural problems aside, the examination of trauma and its impact on family relationships is believably rendered. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/18.]-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.