Cover Image: It All Comes Down to This

It All Comes Down to This

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Member Reviews

This multigenerational family drama is about three grown sisters that are coming to terms with the death of their mother and the sale of their family summer house on an island in Maine. 

My only criticisms are, that the story did take a while to get moving, and that I felt disconnected not only to the characters, but to the plot. Nothing overly interesting happens, it just meanders. I can see why Fowler's writing is compared to Ann Patchett's, but it lacks the intrigue.
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Therese Anne Fowler is a “new to me” author whose books I’ve heard good things about but never got a chance to read.  When I heard she had a new book out and I happened to get approved for an ARC, I figured now would be as good a time as any to acquaint myself with Fowler’s works. Now having finished this book, I’m thinking I probably should’ve started with a different book of hers, as this one turned out to be a huge disappointment.

While the premise had sounded interesting, I quickly discovered, a few chapters in, that this book would be different from what I originally expected.  To me, the basic gist of this book could be summed up this way:  a bunch of privileged, self-centered people endlessly try to justify the foolish (and at times downright stupid) life choices / decisions / actions that they may (or may not) regret making.   None of the characters were likable (and that’s putting it mildly) — nearly every character was whiny to the point of grating on my nerves and the more they complained about their messy lives (and even messier relationships), the less sympathy I had for any of them.  The only character I was able to tolerate (and probably the only character I didn’t find annoying) was 10-year-old Arlo— unfortunately, his scenes were too few and far between.

In terms of the writing — well, let’s just say that it left much to be desired.  There were way too many instances where scenes and dialogue were drawn out unnecessarily in what I would call “stating the obvious” type of writing (“he picked up the newspaper, opened it, read it, folded it back up, put it back down” — not a direct quote, but it conveys the general idea) — which, of course, is the type of writing I absolutely cannot stand.  

Basically, I could not get into this one at all — many of the scenes (in fact, the plot in general) felt contrived, the characters were frustratingly whiny, the writing felt stilted and rudimentary — so much so that each time I put the book down, I dreaded picking it back up again.  I did end up finishing this one (I’m the type of reader who finds it extremely hard to DNF a book once I start it), but not without A LOT of skimming through nearly 50% of the book.  While I don’t intend to write Fowler off based on this one experience, I’m not necessarily in a rush to read another book of hers yet either, as I need some time to get the bad taste from this one out of my system.  

Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.
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This is a engrossing family drama that starts off with a mother finding out her cancer treatments are at an end and going home to tell her 3 daughters, Beck, Claire & Sophie, and then putting her affairs in order.  One of those long put off things she did was record a video explaining some family history previously fictionalized for her family as well as a directive to sell the vacation cottage on Mount Desert Island in Maine.  The daughters all have their own lives and issues and have never been especially super close but going through this together brings them closer.  Beck the oldest doesn't want to sell, she wants to live there full time, and divorce her husband as well.  Claire is already divorced but she is a busy pediatric cardiologist with a child and part time custody.  Sophie is more of a fly by the seat of her pants type...no home or significant other.  She works with an art gallery and over 3 million followers on Instagram but her world is crashing as well.  

Then there's CJ Reynolds.  He came to MDI, after serving 3 years for "attempting" to kill his father, to buy a home and live full time and do what he always wanted, which is paint.  He is staying at a friend's house while he house shops and his friend's elderly aunt shows up with 8 year old Arlo in tow.  Arlo's parent's recently died in a plane crash and his grandmother (the elderly aunt) is now his guardian.  

The story just flowed so smoothly for me which made this so easy to read and enjoy.  If you like family dramas I can HIGHLY recommend this one!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Therese Anne Fowler for a free eARC of this book. It was amazing.
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The Short of It:

My expectations for this one were high but it fell short for me.

The Rest of It:

Meet the Geller sisters: Beck, Claire, and Sophie, a trio of strong-minded women whose pragmatic, widowed mother, Marti, will be dying soon and taking her secrets with her. Marti has ensured that her modest estate is easy for her family to deal with once she’s gone––including a provision that the family’s summer cottage on Mount Desert Island, Maine, must be sold, the proceeds split equally between the three girls.

You’ve probably read a story like this one before. A family home, filled with memories suddenly goes up for sale and there is the last “hurrah” of all the family members getting together to say goodbye to it. I was eagerly looking forward to this one because I loved Fowler’s A Good Neighborhood. But this one left a lot to be desired.

For one, I didn’t care for any of the characters. I found it hard to relate to any of them. As sisters, they didn’t seem to be all that close and honestly, there was little to be sentimental about in regards to the house. However, I liked it enough to give it a chance and although the three sisters didn’t work for me, some of their individual stories were interesting enough to keep me reading. I expected it to be quite compelling given my love for her previous book but it just landed too softly for me. Plus, I finished the book and then a week later couldn’t remember if I had read the ending so read it again. It left my brain that quickly.

Have you read it? What did you think?
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Just what I enjoy - a family drama with a twist!  When the Geller matriarch dies, her secrets are finally exposed and her three daughters are left to pick up the pieces.  Loved the different storylines and characters in this book.
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I was a fan of "A Good Neighborhood" and it quickly became a book club favorite so I was anxious to read this - and I think the same will be true of this book.  The loss of their mother brings 3 sisters back together in a way they hadn't been in years to fulfill her final wishes.  Along the way each discovers more about herself and her sisters.  This is about relationships, family secrets, love and loss - things we can all relate to.
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This is one of those novels that at a surface appears to be somewhat predictable, but if you look close enough, or read between the lines, you will see that there is more than what is at the surface. To me, that demonstrates talent and is impressive. Unfortunately for me, I just did not get to truly appreciate that because I was in a reading funk and needed something quick and easy. Lucky for me, though, is that there IS that surface layer that did tell a story that was just what you read, you do not need to delve deeper than what you want to. I always enjoy books about families with complex relationships and/or issues, and this one fits that perfectly. I love the storyline and concept, as well as the characters, but this is a case of me “It’s me, not you”, I just couldn’t give the true appreciation for this book that I think it probably deserved.
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I enjoy reading a great family saga but this one just wasn’t for me. I had trouble with the story keeping my attention and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. I ADORED “A Good Neighborhood” rating it 5 stars so I can’t wait to see what Therese Anne Fowler releases next! 

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I’m always up for some dysfunctional family drama and this one did not disappoint.  This is the story of 3 sisters and their own drama while they simultaneously deal with the loss of their mother.  I love books about relationships and deep character studies.  While each of the sisters wasn’t necessarily likeable, I did like how the author presented their life story and issues
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This was a very well written book.. I liked the whole premise of it and loved the sisters stories.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher!
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I enjoyed this book and the characters.  The writing flowed easily but I did find the beginning a little slow.  It picked up and I couldn't put it down.
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I really enjoyed this book and definitely a new fan of this author. Loved the characters, I cared about the characters. 3 sisters and their relationships with each other and the baggage that they carry from their personal lives, and their mother who is dying. I especially enjoyed the return of the adult siblings to each other and their Mother. As a Mom of 4 adults, i definitely could identify.
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Three grown sisters, all with secrets, all with curveballs life has thrown them, navigate their way through their mother’s past wishes.  This is my first book by Ms. Fowler and I enjoyed it.  I read a snippet from her saying that all the characters in the book had secrets and we the readers were privy to them by the other characters were not.  I enjoyed the book more after that connection.  It was an enjoyable, slower moving, literary fiction novel.  Thank you NetGalley and St Marin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS…

I was lucky enough to be granted access to an ARC copy of Theresa Anne Fowler’s newest book IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS (thanks Netgally and St. Martin’s Press!). 

There was every intention for me to read this book prior to it’s release date, but ironically as Beck, Claire, and Sophie were going through stressors of their own, I too was dealing with stress induced by heavy workload. Know what’s tough to do when stressed? Get your brain to focus on reading. 

Thanks to 2 layovers on the way to a much needed vacation, I was finally able to give this book the attention it deserved - and trust me, it deserves the attention! 

I had my reservations because the reviews I saw coming in were a bit of a mixed bag, but I actually quite enjoyed the story. Dealing with life in the aftermath of the passing of Marti, their mother, the three sisters take on the many additional curve balls life decided to throw there way (boy life can be messy and wonderful at the same time can’t it?). 

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS is already out on shelves, so make sure to pick up your copy!
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I usually stop reading books that I don’t enjoy but I read this book to the end.  While the story was interesting and full of likable characters, I had some problems with quite a few of the plot twists. Marti’s big secret, which in my opinion was not so monumental (I was expecting something bigger and more significant) that you would reveal it in the dramatic way it was revealed.  Sophie’s complicated life, with unnecessary details and rabbit holes that the reader is forced to go down (why do we care about the art scene at the apartments??).  The unrequited love interest that is not made believable.  The stories that intertwine and don’t connect.  What bothered me most was the coincidence of meeting up in Paris.  I just had a hard time with all of this. 
However, if you can ignore all of this and you want a fun beach read with concrete characters, this might be your book.  For all the flaws I saw in it, I still had trouble putting it down.  
Thank you Netgalley for a ARC.
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I liked this domestic drama book, but I didn’t love it. The book is character-driven and I did not connect well with any of the characters, so my rating is really a 3.5, but I rounded it up because I was able to sympathize with their dilemmas. At the beginning of the book, Marti Geller, the matriarch of the family, dies and one of her last wishes was that the cottage in Maine be sold with the profits distributed equally between her three daughters, Beck, Claire and Sophie. These three characters tell the story, going between the past and the current times. Beck wants to keep the cottage but the other two want to sell it as soon as possible. When a southerner shows up and makes an offer on the house, the conflict is really stirred up between the siblings. C.J. Reynolds is charming and disarmingly attractive, bringing secrets with him for why he actually wants the cottage. I would add a fourth important character to the story and that is the cottage itself which plays a vital role in the drama and is almost personified within the confines of the story. The plot was woven around the characters, developed but not the central focus. The relationship between the siblings is complex as they all have different talents and personalities. I did like Claire the best because even though she has accomplished a great deal as a physician, she lacks confidence and independence. Sophie is a free spirit, roaming social media at all hours, and Beck wants to be a writer. The reason Beck wants to keep the cottage is that she wants to use it as her writing retreat. Each woman’s past and future choices revolve around the setting of the cottage. The themes seemed to be a fear of change and the family ties that keep one grounded. This was a satisfactory read, not mesmerizing by any means, but easy to read and not controversial or nerve-inducing. I recommend it to anyone who just wants to escape into a book that entertains without a big circus act. Just drama, plodding along to the end. The conclusion was well written and wrapped up the story in a way that made me happy that I had read the book.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
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The Geller sisters, Beck, Claire, and Sophie, return to their family cottage home in Maine to put it up for sale after the death of their mother.
Each sister going through one life crisis or another, and each of them with big secrets.

I don't think I'll ever tire of messy, character driven family dramas. I love being dropped in the middle of a family whose members are grappling with something individually and together, and the ways familys tend to be either a landing or taking off point. I love being along for the ride.

It All Comes Down to This is a character study about sisterhood, loss, home, and how life can turn out differently than you once envisioned.

The characters and setting were so well written; I really enjoy Fowler's writing. Not much plot-wise to unpack but fantastic characterization.

Read this if you like Ann Patchett and Emma Straub.

Thanks St Martins Press and Netgalley for the advance e-copy!
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Marti Geller is a widow with three adult daughters. She doesn’t have much time left, so she is getting her affairs in order — explicitly stating that the family cottage in Maine must be sold and split equally between the three daughters. Beck, Claire, and Sophie, who are all in very different stages of their lives, must now come together. 

This one started with a lot of potential and I really wanted to love it — but it fell a little short for me. My interest was lost along the way at various times, but then the story would pull me back in. I enjoyed the growth that each of the sisters went through as they were facing different challenges. However, I personally didn’t connect to any of them. 

What I really liked were the family dynamics, secrets, and different relationships between all of the characters. [Three stars means that I liked the book, but I was left wanting a little more.]
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I love a family drama but something was missing in this one for me. I didn't feel as connected to the characters as I would have liked to.
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DNF. Unfortunately, this was a book I started multiple times but could just not get into. I appreciate having the opportunity to read this book, it was just not a good fit for me as a reader. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my gifted review copy.
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