book review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo



THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD by Claire Lombardo
Doubleday, 2019


I finished The Most Fun We Ever Had weeks ago, after a rather agonizing month-long reading experience, and despite my fondness for writing negative reviews, finding the motivation to review this book has been… a struggle; so happy was I to be blissfully done with it.  The only thing compelling me to write this review now is the promise that after I click post I will never have to think about this book and these inane characters ever again.

The most frustrating thing about this book to me was its wasted potential.  When I started reading it, I was sure I was going to love it in the same way I love soap operas; I’m a sucker for mindless, messy, salacious family drama.  This could have been 200 pages shorter; it could have been an unapologetically entertaining romp through the ripple effects of one daughter’s unplanned pregnancy 15 years after she gave the child up for adoption; it could have been a lot of things.  Instead it was agonizingly, embarrassingly sincere.  Meet David and Marilyn, the parents: they’re still disgustingly in love after all these years.  Meet their children: Wendy’s a fuck-up, Violet’s frigid, Liza’s naive, Grace is the baby.  Meet Violet’s illegitimate child, Jonah: he’s never known stability so he has trouble adjusting to it.  Congratulations, you have now read The Most Fun We Ever Had.

None of these characters undergoes any development.  Any.  At all.  This book is 532 pages.  That is 532 pages of painfully one-note characters arguing with each other about any given character’s one (1) allocated personality trait.  The repetition is insufferable.  And yet, this book really believes it has something to say?  The reader is simply bashed over the head with the most mundane and trite pontifications on life and love and growing up and it’s all so bizarrely earnest for the fact that none of it has any particular depth.

The one thing I will hand Lombardo is that her treatment of the family’s wealth was very self-conscious and well-executed; it’s tempting to dismiss this as a ‘rich people problems book’ (and it’s understandable if that’s a premise that just flat-out does not interest you), but I did feel like Lombardo did a good job contextualizing their struggles and providing a somewhat thoughtful commentary on class disparity.

But ultimately a pretty massive waste of time.

Women’s Prize 2020 reviewsDominicana | Fleishman is in Trouble | Girl | Girl, Woman, OtherHow We Disappeared | Red at the Bone | The Most Fun We Ever Had | Weather

You can pick up a copy of The Most Fun We Ever Had here on Book Depository.

16 thoughts on “book review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

  1. I can’t imagine having spent a month with this book, knowing how little payoff it has 😱 Books that feel like the author came up with an initial concept and then didn’t know what to do with it are frustrating enough, but for that floundering to be stretched across 500+ pages is just 😨

    Liked by 1 person

    • God I TRIED to rip it off like a bandaid but… that approach didn’t work and then I just suffered. I still think I could have loved this if she had just left it at 250 pages!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hardly ever DNF! Plus I was wanting to read the whole Women’s Prize longlist… I kind of gave up on that goal since several of the titles that weren’t shortlisted were ones I was never interested in to begin with, but still, the sense of achievement when I turned the final page was worth it!


  2. Ha, 100% agree! As you say, I think Lombardo is aware of the class issues here; Jonah seems to be a deliberate device to give us a perspective on her characters’ lives. But she still doesn’t do anything with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would highly advise that course of action! I can’t see you getting on with this. It’s just so meandering and repetitive and meandering and repetitive and…


  3. This is the book review I didn’t know I needed in my life!! Props to you for sticking with this book for a month, even after you realized it didn’t live up to its potential. I felt similarly to you – the book had potential but it was just SO bloated and repetitive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember thinking when I started this book ‘why are my friends’ ratings so low, this is fun and harmless’ but then it KEPT GOING FOR 500 PAGES AND IT WAS EXCRUCIATING. Bloated is the perfect word for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “That is 532 pages of painfully one-note characters arguing with each other about any given character’s one (1) allocated personality trait. ” LOL the characters really only have one character trait each dont they 😬 i will never get over the fact that this made it to the womens prize longlist, like it feels like a personal affront to me that it made it but at least its not on the shortlist ?


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