An elegantly penned family saga that stretches for nearly a century ... It is the strength and fragility of the siblings’ bond, the evolving nature of love that is at the core of Conklin’s novel. And Fiona, with her uncommon insights, her lyricism and steady pacing, feels like the perfect narrator. Gracefully rendered, The Last Romantics focuses on the familiar theme of family with great originality.
Told through a retrospective lens, the tales of these four carry an almost mythological weight, and Conklin’s wise, sharp prose makes this book the sort you want to press into the hands of someone you love as soon as you finish ... 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. Conklin manages to rove between viewpoints and decades without ever veering into cleverness or self-consciousness. Instead, The Last Romantics is moving and utterly engrossing, a juicy tale of the heart that never insults its reader’s intelligence.
Beautifully written ... Despite spanning almost a century, The Last Romantics never feels rushed. Conklin places readers in the center of the Skinner family, moving back and forth in time and allowing waves of emotion to slowly uncurl. Perfectly paced, affecting fiction.
Full-bodied ... The unusual narrative format of The Last Romantics is similar to that of Atonement, Ian McEwan's masterpiece, and is equally successful as deployed here ... Conklin has proven once again that she is an expert storyteller. The Last Romantics contains all the essential elements of a compelling Greek tragedy, one that also provides a mercifully cathartic release for its emotionally spent main characters and, ultimately, for the reader ... The skillful three-dimensional rendering of Joe and his sisters welcomes the reader into the inner sanctum of their preoccupations and rivalries. Intensely moving, The Last Romantics is a thoughtful family drama with exceptional characters at its heart.
... [a] lovely page-turner ... Conklin... [is] an accomplished storyteller ... it’s a book that beautifully understands its characters ... In its elegiac final chapter, The Last Romantics leaves its characters — and its dazzled readers — surrounded by a halo of love.
Accomplished ... throws a few unexpected twists into the well-worn story of evolving relationships among siblings ... Conklin’s plot avoids the predictable, and adds a new mystery each time an old one is solved, resulting in a clever novel.
A problem, especially in scenes involving Joe, is that Conklin sometimes describes private thoughts and feelings Fiona could not know, although according to the novel’s framing device she is recounting her own memory of events ... Basically a lukewarm turn-of-the-21st-century family melodrama despite the intermittent, never adequately integrated references to a future wracked by climate change.