A multi-generational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple—still madly in love after forty years—match wits, harbor grudges, and recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they've built.
The outside world barely enters into the cosseted lives of the Sorensons ... Of course it’s not the responsibility of every novel to wrestle with cultural shifts, with politics and war, but the near total absence of even a whiff of non-Sorenson-related events over 40 years and 500-plus pages must be a conscious choice. It reads, eventually, as a deliberate and fascinating commentary on how a particular kind of moneyed white family can choose the degree to which they engage with such … unpleasantries. And that sometimes they choose zero degrees ... At this point you may be thinking that there’s no way four women can spend an entire book being obsessed with their happily married parents ... But here’s the thing — Lombardo renders that obsession with such skill and finely tuned interest that it feels like a quiet subversion of the traditional family saga, a new way for the past to bless or poison the present and an unexpected engine for the revelations about being human that she delivers so beautifully.
... an assured first novel ... The fun—well, that’s in the reading of the novel, which nicely blends comedy with pathos and the sharp- with the soft-edged ... the strength of the book is in its unsentimental limning of the past, of dinner-table conversations, pillow talk, sisterly intrigues and alliances, of creaking floors and sheltering trees, of petty resentments and small rapprochements ... The Most Fun We Ever Had is long—really, a bit too long. The plot lines and complications are many—perhaps a bit too many. The cast is large (see above). But Ms. Lombardo manages to keep all the balls in the air.
This is a conventional novel, but an expertly rendered one, with the multiple ugly tensions between Violet and Wendy in particular providing a ghoulishly dysfunctional sideshow to their parents’ loved-up spectacle. There is, however, just the faintest irksome hint of smugness in Lombardo’s authorial tone, as though she sides a little too much with characters whose privilege will, in the end, see them through.