First-time author Matthew Thomas has a lot to live up to. His novel follows Eileen Tumulty from her birth in 1941 through her life as a child, young woman, wife, nurse, caretaker, and mother. She is as strong a protagonist as it gets. Thomas's characters are real: easy to get attached to, but not always easy to love. This novel is truly American and encompasses every virtue and vice behind that title with beautiful prose by an author who, I hope, has only just begun. My favorite book of 2014. Recommended By Jeffrey J., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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 each other 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.
About the Author
Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel We Are Not Ourselves has been shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.Mare Winningham has appeared in more than fifty film and television projects, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Georgia and Emmy Awards for the telefilms George Wallace and Amber Waves. She is also an accomplished singer-songwriter.