The History of Us: A Novel

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From the critically acclaimed author of The Myth of You and Me, The History of Us is a heartrending story of love, loss, family, and the life you make in the path not taken.

Sometimes home is the hardest place to go

Eloise Hempel is on her way to teach her first class at Harvard when she receives the devastating news that her sister and her husband have been killed in a tragic accident. Eloise leaves her life in Cambridge and moves back into her family’s century-old house in Cincinnati, pouring her own money into the house’s upkeep and her heart into raising her sister’s three children, Theodora, Josh, and Claire.

Nearly twenty years later, the now-grown children seem ready to leave home, and Eloise plans to sell the house and finally start a life that’s hers alone. But when Eloise’s mother decides that they should all compete for the chance to keep the house and Claire reveals a life-changing secret, the makeshift family begins to fall apart and ultimately must decide what in life is worth fighting for.
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About the author

Leah Stewart is the critically acclaimed author of The History of Us, Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, and Body of a Girl. The recipient of a Sachs Fund Prize and a NEA Literature Fellowship, she teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Cincinnati and lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two children. Visit her online at LeahStewart.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 8, 2013
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781451672640
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Family Life / General
Fiction / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses (An “irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel” —Marie Claire), Jennifer Close captured friendship in those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. Now, with her sparkling new novel of parenthood and sibling rivalry, Close turns her gimlet eye to the only thing messier than friendship: family.

Weezy Coffey’s parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. “Maureen will marry well,” their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose—thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.

But now that Weezy’s own children are adults, they haven’t exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy’s middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment—leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.

As the Coffey children’s various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
A READ WITH JENNA • TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK 

“A richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming.” -- Meg Wolitzer

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH BY:

Goodreads • Lithub • Refinery29 • InStyle • HelloGiggles • Real Simple • Parade • PureWow • Apple Books • Bustle

“Conklin examines her characters’ lives with generosity and an unflinching eye for the complexities of love and family.... Fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections will find similar pleasures in the intelligence and empathy on display here.” -- USA Today (four stars)

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.

Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Fiction

"All the feels of a This Is Us episode." --Booklist

When Murray Blaire invites his three grown children to his New Hampshire farm for a few days, he makes it clear he expects them to keep things pleasant. The rest of his agenda--using Ruth and George to convince their younger sister, Lizzie, to break up with her much older boyfriend--that he chooses to keep private. But Ruth and George arrive bickering, with old scores to settle. And, in a classic Blaire move, Lizzie derails everything when she turns up late, cradling a damaged family cookbook, and talking about possible criminal charges against her.

This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a time when they were a family of six, not four, with a father running for Congress and a mother building a private life of her own. The now-obscured notes written in its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother's ambitions and the mysterious choices she once made, choices her children have always sought without success to understand. Until this weekend.

As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother's story, they come to realize not just what they've lost, but how they can find their way back to each other. In this way, celebrated author Elisabeth Hyde reminds readers that family survival isn't about simply setting aside old rivalries, but preserving the love that's written between the lines.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by #1 bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.

Winner of The Story Prize • A Washington Post and New York Times Notable Book • One of USA Today’s top 10 books of the year

Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.

Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.

Praise for Anything Is Possible

“When Elizabeth Strout is on her game, is there anybody better? . . . This is a generous, wry book about everyday lives, and Strout crawls so far inside her characters you feel you inhabit them. . . . This is a book that earns its title. Try reading it without tears, or wonder.”—USA Today (four stars)

“Readers who loved My Name Is Lucy Barton . . . are in for a real treat. . . . Strout is a master of the story cycle form. . . .  She paints cumulative portraits of the heartache and soul of small-town America by giving each of her characters a turn under her sympathetic spotlight.”—NPR

“These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else.”—The Washington Post

“In this wise and accomplished book, pain and healing exist in perpetual dependence, like feuding siblings.”—The Wall Street Journal
In the tradition of Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, The New Neighbor is “a chilling page-turner” (People) with “simple, elegant language” (The New York Times Book Review) about an old woman’s curiosity turned into a dangerous obsession as she becomes involved in her mysterious new neighbor’s complicated life.

How much can you really know about the woman next door?

Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is content hiding from the world. Stoic and independent, she rarely leaves the Tennessee mountaintop where she lives, finding comfort in the mystery novels that keep her company—until she spots a woman who’s moved into the long-empty house across the pond.

Her neighbor, Jennifer Young, is also looking to hide. On the run from her old life, she and her four-year-old son, Milo, have moved to a quiet town where no one from her past can find her.

In Jennifer, Margaret sees both a potential companion for her loneliness and a mystery to be solved. She thinks if she says the right thing, tells the right story, Jennifer will open up, but Jennifer refuses to talk about herself, her son, his missing father, or her past. Frustrated, Margaret crosses more and more boundaries in pursuit of the truth, threatening to unravel the new life Jennifer has so painstakingly created—and reveal some secrets of her own…

From the critically acclaimed author of The History of Us and The Myth of You and Me, The New Neighbor is “a promising exploration of the secrets we all carry and our refusal to forgive ourselves” (Publishers Weekly).
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