• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 9, 2016)
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.
Clio is finally happy. She has Henry, an older, loving, hotel entrepreneur who adores Clio. She has a career as an ornithologist fulfills her. And she has friends who love her. Her life wasn't always like this. She felt invisible and vulnerable for a long time. She harbors a secret from Henry that she worries will come out. If he sees her for who she really is will he accept her or run away?
Smith does her best not to lose it. She can't help but feel overwhelmed and envious of her little sister's wedding when that should have been her a year ago. Although still dealing with her broken heart she still tries to be the perfect daughter. In reality, she feels she could never be that person and it weighs on her. Then comes along Tate who is going through a divorce. He went to Yale with her but they never really spoke to each other. All of a sudden she's revealing a hidden secret only her best friend Clio knows. Why she has opened up to him she doesn't know. All she hopes is that she won't be left broken hearted once again.
The Ramblers is a three person POV. I know some people don't tend to like books with multiple POV's but I love them especially if they work as well as The Ramblers. I really liked Clio more than any of the other characters just because I felt I could empathize with her more emotionally. Her mother was dealing with a mental illness all of her life and it wasn't really addressed within the family. Her father is a quiet sort of man and they have been strained since her mother died a year ago. When Clio described what it was like to live with her mother I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. It's really hard seeing a parent go through something and not understanding what's happening until you are older. Her story gave a glimpse of what it was like to have a parent with a mental illness and how it affects everyone around them.
Clio was genuine and kind. She was so afraid too. Afraid that she would lose a guy she never thought she could love so much. I understood her hesitancy and found her story to be very rewarding. Her best friend Smith, on the other hand, took me a moment to warm up to. I just didn't like that she was clearly jealous of her sister. When I found out the details of what happened with her ex then I really started to understand and appreciate her. I mean it does really suck to have family members think that the person you loved for so long really didn't mean anything. Her father particularly drove me nuts with his rudeness towards Smith's former relationship. He also wasn't very nice about her career aspirations. He's that typical rich guy who frowns on those who have less than him or don't 100% agree with him. So I could understand why Smith felt lost and couldn't really see her worth at times.
Tate is that oh so special guy that Smith opens up to. Tate's divorce is pretty difficult on him but then through all of that he finds Smith. He never wanted to get into a relationship so fast but with Smith, it feels different. He can't figure her out and she's so beautiful because of that. I liked that he was not like Smith's father at all. Basically, that was the standard he had to pass after I met her father and he succeeded in that.
There's one minor thing that I didn't think was particularly necessary which was all the sexual moments that were kind of crude to me but other readers might enjoy that aspect. Otherwise, I enjoyed how each story came together. I enjoyed getting to know Clio, Smith, and Tate and seeing where their journey took them. I'm really happy with how everything turned out and kind of wish I had a glimpse of their future to see how they are all doing.
Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, but her dream (long unconscious) was always to write. She is the author of a novel, Life After Yes; blogs at IvyLeagueInsecurities.com; contributes to The Huffington Post; and is the founder and curator of the popular Happier Hours Literary Salons. The middle of five sisters, she lives in New York with her husband and three young daughters.
Find Aidan on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for providing me The Ramblers in exchange for an honest review!