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Same As It Ever Was by Claire Lombardo

I didn't think Claire could match The Most Fun We Ever Had, but she did. I fell into this book and landed hand on my hands and knees. There is so much truth here, and sadness and humour and honesty. I was blown away by the insights Claire sprinkles so casually across her pages. I want to worm my way into her brain. One of my top reads this year. A family saga to savour. As the Guardian said 'A literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler'

From the back

At fifty-seven, Julia Ames has found herself with an improbably lovely life. Despite her inclination towards self-sabotage, she has a husband she loves, two happy children and a quiet, contented existence in the suburbs.

But, out of the blue, things begin to change.

Her always well-behaved son, Ben, is acting strangely, and will soon make a shocking announcement.

Her beloved but belligerent teenage daughter is about to depart for college, leaving Julia unexpectedly terrified of an empty nest.

And, in the local grocery store, Julia encounters a woman she hasn't seen for 20 years - a woman whose friendship was once both her lifeline and, very nearly, her downfall.

Consumed with her checkered past and the chaos of her present, Julia starts to spin out of control, at risk of destroying all she most loves.

Following Julia over the course of a few tumultuous months, bookended by a birthday party and a wedding, and examining the fifty-plus years before, Same as It Ever Was examines the complete and complicated trajectory of one woman's life and asks what it takes to make - and to not break - a family.


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