Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Ramblers

Author: Aidan Donnelly Rowley
Series: None
Publication Date: February 9, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: One of the most beautifully written books I've ever read
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City. Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled. Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams. Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Ramblers is one of those rare book that is beautiful from start to finish. The characters could easily be someone we all know or perhaps we see some of ourselves in them. They are flawed and gorgeous.

Typically, there is one character that I am drawn to or love a little more than another in these kinds of novels but not in this one. I enjoyed each of their stories immensely. Smith, is the beautiful one, but she is the one suffering from a terrible break-up and it doesn't help that her younger sister, Sally, is getting married. Salt on a very open wound for Smith. Smith seems all tough and put together but there is an open vulnerability to her that even makes her more attractive. It would be easy to hate Smith based on appearances because she seems to have it all. You also immediately love her because of the way Clio talks about her.

Clio is amazing and resilient. She is whip smart but shy and unsure of herself.  She has found the love of her life in Henry, but isn't sure how to tell him about her past. She is used to running away, it's always worked for her in the past, but this time, she has to run towards her past to confront it.  Clio's story is one of healing and forgiveness. It is about grabbing your past, facing it and not letting it define you.

I wasn't sure how Tate was going to fit into the story but he did and not just a potential love interest. He has his own story of heartache and learning to trust himself. He is trying to break free from what people expect of him to following his passion. He is ballsy and adventurous. He is what Smith needs to help heal her heart and to help her break-free from her family. Smith is what he needs to give himself the confidence to pursue  his passion.

Ms. Rowley is a gifted storyteller. Her love of New York City is evident in each chapter and page. It makes me want to visit the city just to go to Central Park to find The Ramble. I'm not even a bird watcher but I would be to listen to someone like Clio. She has a way of writing her characters so that you appreciate their flaws instead of having them aggravate you. I loved how she wrote Smith and Clio's friendship. I felt that even though it could have been one-sided, it wasn't. There was a deep appreciation and love for each other.

I can't recommend The Ramblers to you readers enough. Even though it is early in the year, I know this one will be on my Best of 2016 list.



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