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Same As It Ever Was

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781399608213

Price: £20

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‘Witty and insightful. A powerful exploration of marriage, motherhood, and self’

‘It was such a pleasure to bury myself in this book, a literary novel of family life which moved and surprised me. You read on ravenously’

The author of THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD returns with a brilliantly observed family drama, in which a long marriage faces imminent derailment from events both past and present

At fifty-seven, Julia Ames has found herself with an improbably lovely life. Despite her inclination towards self-sabotage, she has a husband she loves, two happy children and a quiet, contented existence in the suburbs.

But, out of the blue, things begin to change.

Her always well-behaved son, Ben, is acting strangely, and will soon make a shocking announcement.

Her beloved but belligerent teenage daughter is about to depart for college, leaving Julia unexpectedly terrified of an empty nest.

And, in the local grocery store, Julia encounters a woman she hasn’t seen for 20 years – a woman whose friendship was once both her lifeline and, very nearly, her downfall.

Consumed with her checkered past and the chaos of her present, Julia starts to spin out of control, at risk of destroying all she most loves.

Following Julia over the course of a few tumultuous months, bookended by a birthday party and a wedding, and examining the fifty-plus years before, Same as It Ever Was examines the complete and complicated trajectory of one woman’s life and asks what it takes to make – and to not break – a family.


‘A literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler’ GUARDIAN

‘Lombardo juggles a huge cast of characters with seeming effortlessness, bringing each to life with humour, vividness and acute psychological insight’ MADELINE MILLER, author of SONG OF ACHILLES

‘Lombardo has a wry, often spiky humour and tightly written style that should appeal to fans of Maria Semple, Emma Straub and Jennifer Egan’ SUNDAY TIMES


It was such a pleasure to bury myself in this book, a literary novel of family life which moved and surprised me. Claire Lombardo creates such interesting characters and predicaments and manipulates the revelations and emotional bombshells so expertly that you read on ravenously
Clare Chambers, author of SMALL PLEASURES
A big American novel to get totally lost in. Rich and compelling and funny and true
Claire Powell, author of AT THE TABLE
Pitch-perfect. . . Lombardo is compulsively readable and consistently funny, and it's impossible to look away as Julia continues to self-sabotage. This domestic drama hits all the right notes
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)
Lombardo loves her characters, taking time to peel back each of their layers through the time-lapse structure of the novel and her rich descriptions. . . A sure bet for fans of Richard Russo and Jane Smiley
A gorgeous, strange domestic drama that flows between timelines as we approach the wedding of our protagonist Julia's adult son. We are treated to her complicated and revelatory inner life. I loved it
Eva Wiseman, Observer
Sparkling. . . Readers will be torn between their instinct to race to the finish and their desire to savour every page
Publisher’s Weekly Summer Reads
Moving back and forth in time, Claire Lombardo's astute and often moving second novel charts the life of the breathtakingly self-sabotaging Julia Ames . . . Lombardo's psychological acuity and her compassion for her characters amply reward attention
Wall Street Journal
Infidelity, dysfunction, secrets - this family novel delivers . . . A 500-page, multigenerational examination of the ties that bind . . . Lombardo refashions domestic drama into something rich and strange, with echoes of Lorrie Moore's sardonic humour and Jonathan Franzen's dissection of class . . . Like Franzen's Marion Hildebrandt, or Faye, the narrator of Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy, Lombardo gives us a woman whose inner life is knotted and revelatory . . . Same as It Ever Was is a brave, nuanced book, lulling us with its rhythms but taking risks when we glance away
New York Times
Witty and insightful. A powerful exploration of marriage, motherhood, and self
Bonnie Garmus, author of LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY
A family saga to save as a treat and devour when you should be doing something else, in which events past and present upset a long marriage
You need to read this novel. I never wanted it to end. Claire Lombardo is the new Anne Tyler, with teeth
Erika Waller, author of DOG DAYS
This is such a wonderful book: unsentimental yet full of feeling, with such sharply-written, loving and generous characterisation. It has everything I adore in a novel. I finished it in floods of tears, and had to sit for a minute or two to pull myself together. It absolutely floored me. What a joy to let a writer of such talent suffuse us with a life's worth of humour and pain, affection and mess!
Jessie Burton, author of THE MINIATURIST
Same As It Ever Was is one of those big, grown-up existential novels about parenthood and marriage and teenagers and friendship and family life . . . But there is also something new to it, something that is both easy reading and profound at the same time, specifically on feelings of failure and abandonment, all of it cleverly brushed with wit and humour. A strong recommend
Matt Haig, author of THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY
One of those beautifully written, keenly observed novels where not that much happens - other than, you know, life itself - but also so much happens . . . Claire Lombardo has written a whole cast of characters so detailed, so specifically themselves, that you almost feel you could reach out and touch them
Lombardo's witty, sympathetic take on motherhood exudes the sharp scent of fermented apple juice and a full diaper . . . Lombardo has such a fine eye for the weft and warp of a family's fabric. She understands the chemistry of that special epoxy of irritation and affection that keeps a marriage glued together. One finishes Same As It Ever Was with the satisfaction of knowing this complicated woman well - and the poignant disappointment of having to say goodbye
Washington Post