As close as sisters for twenty years, Sarah and Lauren have been together through high school and college, first jobs and first loves, the uncertainties of their twenties and the realities of their thirties.
Sarah, the only child of a prominent intellectual and a socialite, works at a charity and is methodically planning her wedding. Lauren—beautiful, independent, and unpredictable—is single and working in publishing, deflecting her parents’ worries and questions about her life and future by trying not to think about it herself. Each woman envies—and is horrified by—particular aspects of the other’s life, topics of conversation they avoid with masterful linguistic pirouettes.
Once, Sarah and Lauren were inseparable; for a long a time now, they’ve been apart. Can two women who rarely see one other, selectively share secrets, and lead different lives still call themselves best friends? Is it their abiding connection—or just force of habit—that keeps them together?
With impeccable style, biting humor, and a keen sense of detail, Rumaan Alam deftly explores how the attachments we form in childhood shift as we adapt to our adult lives—and how the bonds of friendship endure, even when our paths diverge.
Rumaan Alam is the author of Rich and Pretty. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Elle, New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Rumpus, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. He studied at Oberlin College, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
From the award-winning author Lynn Freed, who’s been called a “literary star” by The New York Times Book Review, comes a hilarious and brilliant new novel about the riotous, passion-filled adventures of three women who thought they were past their prime.
To escape their griping grown children, husbands and lovers, and an abundance of grandchildren underfoot, three self-proclaimed “old bags,” Dania, Ruth, and Bess, head for a quiet island on the Aegean Sea. They’ll spend a year by the water—watching the sunset, eating grilled fish and fresh olives, sipping ouzo. They deserve it, they say. After all those years, the three women will finally have some peace.
Except that they can’t. For one, Bess, a pampered, once-beautiful inheritress, falls swiftly into an affair with a poetry-writing taxi driver—who has, of course, a territorial wife. And Dania, a therapist, begins to receive an increasing number of cryptically menacing phone calls from a psychotic patient. An ex-lover of Ruth’s shows up unexpectedly, right before one of Bess’s does—and then the women’s children arrive, with their own demanding children in tow. As the island quickly becomes crowded, the women’s serene year in Greece devolves perilously, and uproariously, into something much more complicated.
With the wit of Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different and all the adventure of Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lynn Freed’s The Last Laugh is at once wildly funny and deeply perceptive, an exuberant story of friendship and pleasure, family and love.
“With his unerring eye for nuance and unsparing sense of irony, Rumaan Alam’s second novel is both heartfelt and thought-provoking.”
— Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
From the celebrated author of Rich and Pretty, a novel about the families we fight to build and those we fight to keep
Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any real help—Priscilla Johnson—and begs her to come home with them as her son’s nanny.
Priscilla’s presence quickly does as much to shake up Rebecca’s perception of the world as it does to stabilize her life. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting, for the first time, the blind spots of her own privilege. She feels profoundly connected to the woman who essentially taught her what it means to be a mother. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves with equal ferocity, but whom the world is determined to treat differently.
Written with the warmth and psychological acuity that defined his debut, Rumaan Alam has crafted a remarkable novel about the lives we choose, and the lives that are chosen for us.
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.
This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.
The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.
When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.
Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.