Cover Image: It All Comes Down to This

It All Comes Down to This

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This is a family drama about three sisters: Beck, Claire and Sophie. Their mother, Marti leaves strict instructions that upon her passing, the cottage in Maine must be sold and the proceeds must be split equally among the girls. One sister isn't in love with her husband anymore, one is broke, one loves another's husband. And, an ex-con wants to buy the cottage. Everyone becomes entangled in everyone's stories as they work to deal with the death and the sale of the cottage.
This book was just an OK read for me. I didn't dislike it, but I wasn't invested in it either.
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**Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Therese Anne Fowler for an ARC of this book!**

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine, fine, fine
'Cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

Three sisters perhaps need to feel this sentiment more than ever. Brought together. After their mother Marti passes away, Beck, Claire, and Sophie are drawn back together from their VERY different walks of life to help process the sale of their mother's cottage. However, each sister has a differing perspective on what to do with the property. Sister Beck is the unofficial Jo March of the group, a writer stuck in a passionless marriage for reasons she just can't explain...but her husband probably could. Middle child Claire has a successful career in the medical field, but her lovesick obsession with the 'one that got away' is more complicated than it even sounds. Sophie relies on her looks, her Instagram fame, and the ability to flit from continent to continent, luxury penthouse to B-list celebrity's bedroom, just getting by...but how long can it last?

When blast-from-their-past C.J. Reynolds, a Southerner with secrets of his own, enters the picture as a potential buyer, EVERYTHING gets more complicated. Will this trio be able to reconcile the past, their present, and move toward a united front in the future...however twisted, tangled, and unnerving their new paths may be?

I first stumbled on Fowler's writing in Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (yes, my obsession with all things Gatsby and the 20s rears its ugly head once again) and I fell in love with her writing and ability to turn a phrase, not to mention fabulous character development. I figured going from historical fiction to more contemporary fiction would be an easy transition for me with this author, and I'd quickly be absorbed by this book.

...Sadly, this was not the case.

This is yet another book that I felt missed a golden opportunity to explore emotional connections on a deep level. And why was that? 

Because SO much of this book focused on, well, sex.

Not exactly what I anticipated when I read in a blurb that a mother's death is drawing a family together. But there are mentions of everything from some uh, less mainstream sexual acts, to prostitution, masturbation...and I won't say any more than that because I don't really need to relive it. I suppose in a sense some of this helped to make 'the plot work, but trust me when I say the plot drags on and on for a book that isn't particularly long to begin with and had such a strange ending, I had no idea what the author was getting at in terms of character arcs. I don't consider myself a prude by any stretch, but this was not a romance novel, yet it kept attempting to be one and I just got tired of it.

The dialogue at times also felt very off. I'm not quoting exactly, but there is one point after a big reveal where a character responds not with the expected indignation, sadness, or anger, but with an (almost cheerful) "Wow. You've given me a lot to chew on!" which just felt so insincere and out of place it almost took me into eye-roll territory. I understand these characters needed to be unlikable on some level (and truly, all of them are in one way or another) but I think if they had felt more realistic I could have overlooked some of the frustration with their (very stupid) decisions.

While I still enjoy Fowler overall as an author and would consider another book of hers. perhaps books of hers NOT set in the present era are a better fit for me. (or maybe it's 2022 and I can't let the 20's go...TBD!)

3 stars
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It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler is a solid story about family and the different dynamics throughout.  Beck, Claire, and Sophie Geller are strong-minded women and sisters who are faced with an upcoming tragedy.  Their mother, Marti, will soon die from cancer.  This will make the girls orphans since their father has already passed on years before.  Marti wants her passing to be pain free for her daughters alloting everything in thirds and  asks that the family’s summer cottage on Mount Desert Island, Maine, must be sold, the proceeds split equally between the three girls.

The selling of this home brings out mixed feelings and emotions between the girls because of secrets they are hiding.  

We also meet C.J. Reynolds, an ex-con with secrets of his own that bring more trouble to the sister's situation.  

How are these two stories connected and what will become of the Geller sisters?

Overall, this was a solid read.  There were times when the plot slows down a lot which can be difficult to get through.  I enjoyed the story as a whole, but struggled through some parts of the book.  I did have to go to the audiobook in order to finish the story and I am glad that I had that option.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm all for reading a book about dysfunctional family drama, so I when I read the synopsis of this story, I knew it would be one I would enjoy.  Rather than the family being totally dysfunctional though, each character brings their own bit of dysfunction into the mix. The widowed matriarch of the Geller family, Marti, is dying.  She has been planning for this and has made sure there will be little her daughters must do once she passes.  She felt rather unemotional to me.  She goes into hospice without telling her girls, so that they will only find out after she has passed.  Her three very different daughters, Beck, Claire and Sophie, who have never been super close, are understandably confused and upset by this.  They were not able to say goodbye.   Marti has left specific instructions regarding her will, which is revealed to her daughters through a video she recorded.  Along with instructions to sell the lake house and divide the profits, Marti reveals a secret about her past that is a complete surprise to the girls.

Each daughter's life is presented in alternating POVs.  While each seems to be successful and happy, each one is hiding some part of their life which they fear will alter their sister's perceptions.  Beck, the only one married with children, has a husband that is beloved by her family.  As pieces of her life are uncovered, we learn that she is missing that "lust" factor in her marriage.  But she knows that they are the best of friends and get along easily and that's what is important in a good marriage right?  Her husband may have different thoughts about that...

Claire possesses a high-achieving personality so the fact that her marriage crumbled is a source of disappointment to her.  The author leaves the reason for the divorce open until about 3/4 of the way through the book.  Her sisters think that Claire had an affair, and she seems to be fine with them thinking that, but it is obvious to the reader that is not the case.  Rather, she has pined for someone out of her reach for some time now.  She wonders if she will ever be able to move on and forget this person.

Sophie works for an art gallery,  an expert and finding the talent.  She is also a social media influencer. with millions of followers to entertain.  Unfortunately her bank account can't quite keep up with her expensive tastes.  She is actually homeless, moving from house to house as a house-sitter.  She uncovers information that lead her to believe her boss may be up to something fishy.  Although her mother's passing has hit her hard, her inheritance could not be on the horizon at a better time.

The story moves through the daughter's lives and does a great job of developing each character.  The girls must find a way back to each other as they only have each other left.  Each girl must decide what her future looks like, not what everyone else expects it to look like.   I loved the background story on Marti and her husband.  It gave such insight into her personality.  A story full of  grief, love, expectations, second chances, unspoken dreams, determination and family, this one had everything I look for in a good family drama. The ending was so good - not too perfect, but wrapping up quite a bit of the loose ends.  I definitely recommend this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance copy to read and review.  Pub date: 6.07.22
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This was a strange read for me. I loved the writing, the storyline, the entire feel of the book. But I couldn’t stand any of the characters. Nope not a single one, and there were lots of characters. For me that made the book somewhat unbalanced. But it’s a great book and I am sure it will find a hugely supportive audience. And now I need to take a trip to Maine! Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.
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Therese Fowler's books are hit or miss for me - didn't like "Z", but loved "A Good Neighborhood", and the premise of this story sounded promising but it just... was not.  The story never got off the ground for me, and the characters never quite spiked my interest or attention.  I could easily have put this book down and had no interest in picking it up again, but I was hoping it would get better.   Unfortunately, it never took off and I just didn't find it an interesting read.  Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy.
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The Geller sisters have been called together because of their mother’s death. Marti left a will and a video with a revelation for her girls. Can these girls overcome what life has to throw at them? These three sisters are so different. First is Beck. Beck is a journalist, want to be novelist. Her marriage is on the rocks but she is unsure how to fix it. Next we have Claire. She is a pediatric cardiologist and she has an unrequited love interest. Finally we have Sophie. Sophie is the “fly by the seat of her pants girl”.

Nothing like family to make you want to pull your hair out! I love these three sisters and their relationship. They are not afraid to tell each other what they think. But, when the time comes…they have each other’s backs and they learn to forgive and accept.

This story really had me all over the place. I really loved each and every character, even if I wanted to jerk one or two baldheaded because of a bad decision. And believe me…quite a few bad decisions were made by each! Add in the setting of Maine, and I was hooked! I really can see this being a binge series on Hulu or Netflix.

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The narrator, Barrie Kreinik, is wonderful, especially on all the different voices.

Need a good, true to life family novel…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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This is the fourth excellent book I have read by Therese Ann Fowler.  I love her way of writing, she gives her female protagonists such a unique voice, which makes you empathize with them and want to cheer when good things happen and cry when they are down.

The story basically revolves around the relationship of a mother with her three different daughters.  I wish we could have actually " lived" through Marti Geller's life story as she grew up - she was my favorite character.  

I thought it got a little too coincidental, the way Beck and CJ Reynolds kept meeting throughout the entire book, (Beck's backstory & the prologue, come on!) but I loved it anyway.
I didn't  like the chapters about CJ Reynolds and I think the narrative could have flowed just as well without his whole story, but I get why the author added him in there - it created a catalyst for Beck's self revelation and new independent life.

It was fun to read about Sophie's exploits into the jet set life of the art & fashion world.  
Claire's emotional turmoil was  heartbreaking, but I was so happy for her at the end.  Actually, I was happy for all of them, Marti included.

Once again, Therese Ann Fowler has written an engaging story, with characters who make you think about them after the book has ended.
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One summer is enough to indelibly change the Geller family. Their mother’s death brings the three sisters, Beck, Claire and Sophie, back together. Beck is boringly unhappy in her long marriage to Paul and paralyzed by procrastination in her lifelong desire to be a published author. Claire is a divorced pediatric cardiologist with a workload that prevents her from giving thought to what she really wants out of life. And beautiful, always Instagram ready Sophie is hiding almost insurmountable problems behind daily glamor shots. When their mother’s will states that their Maine vacation house must be sold and the proceeds divided, the women have very different reactions. Add a somewhat charismatic ex-con to the mix, a former resident who wants to buy their house, and the result is a cataclysmic revelation of family secrets.

This character driven domestic drama by Therese Anne Fowler is beautifully written, slow and deliberately paced. All the sisters are hiding so much sadness from each other. This will be an excellent book club choice. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Therese Anne Fowler for this ARC.
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A family drama centered on the three Geller sisters in the wake of their mother's death. They each have their own real issues to deal with along with their grief. This book was a little slow -moving but well worth the effort for a satisfying conclusion. 
I received an advance reader copy of this book. The views and opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and given voluntarily.
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It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler is the story of how three sister's lives take a turn following their mom's death.

I have read a couple of books by this author and this one felt very different to me.  It had a somewhat similar plot to new release The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner.

Gellar Sisters Beck, Claire, and Sophie are very different from one another so it was easy to keep their storylines straight.  They have been living very separate lives until the death of their mother brings them together.  Once they reconnect they discover the gritty parts of one another's lives.  They are also all on the cusp of making major life changes.

I found it hard to connect to any of the sisters.  Beck's was my favorite storyline to read while Sophie's was my least.  Claire didn't get too much attention except within a plot point that would be a spoiler.  Maybe the point of having three unstable characters was to prove that it's never too late to start over?

There are two major "secrets" within the plot.  The first is left on a video by Marti Gellar, the mom.  For what it's worth, after reading the entire book I had to go back to figure out what her big secret was. When I reread the chapter it just didn't seem like a huge deal to me.  

The second has to do with a character named C.J. who had just been released from prison.  For a while the reader isn't sure if he is friend or foe.  This could have been suspenseful but it ended up being pretty bland.

Overall this book was just ok for me.  Nothing particularly stood out and I left feeling a bit let down.
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𝐈𝐓 𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐒 𝐃𝐎𝗪𝐍 𝐓𝐎 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐒 by Therese Anne Fowler is the story of three adult sisters who have just lost their mom. As adults, the three aren’t particularly close, but neither are they estranged in any way. They're just busy with their own lives and their own problems. All but one in their forties, none of their lives are going quite as planned. Their worlds are further upended by this fresh loss, by secrets their mother reveals after her death and by her strange request that they sell the family beach house in Maine.⁣
⁣
Now all that is well and good, and the reading was quick. I liked the women, but I also could see where this story was headed very early on and I didn’t like that. Still, it might have been a four star book, but then there was the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, so you might want to stop reading here if this book is on your TBR. Let’s just say the ending was neat and tidy to the 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦! It ruined the book for me. So, if you like an unbelievably harmonious ending, then this is a book for you. For me, not so much. (𝘐𝘵 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘋𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 releases on Tuesday.)⁣ 2.5 stars
⁣
My thanks to @stmartinspress for an electronic copy of #ItAllComesDownToThis.
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I really loved Therese Ann Fowlers last book so I was super excited for this one. Unfortunately I found this one to just be ok. I enjoyed the sisters and their relationship and how it grows after their moms death, but I just wasnt as pulled in as I hoped to be.
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The Summer Cottage

The story of a dying mother making known her wishes in her will to sell the Summer Cottage in Maine. The three daughters involved Sophie, Beck and Claire. They each have different life styles and different views on the Cottage.

The book was not very interesting to me, I got bored with it real fast. It did start off good with C.J., but they the girls stories just did not interest me at all.

I plodded through the book, but I did have a hard time reading through and finishing it.

Thanks to Therese Ann Fowler for writing it, to St. Martin's Press for publishing it and to NetGalley for allowing me to read and review a copy. All words in the review are my own.
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Family relationships can be complicated, and the Geller family in Therese Anne Fowler's latest book proves to be just that. When the mother passes away from cancer, she leaves a video for her daughters that reveals her long-held secrets. Her three grown daughters are also keeping secrets from each other and reflecting on the directions of their lives. The family cabin in Maine plays a central role in the story. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I typically enjoy family dramas, but not ones that only contain selfish, unlikable characters which I found to be true of the Geller sisters (including Beck's husband). I think I would have liked C.J. from the little I read of him but I was not willing to sift through the other characters and I found the drama between the sisters to be a bit over-the-top and it just made my eyes roll. This may be more suited to readers who enjoy the drama of soap operas. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eArc. All thoughts expressed are my own.
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What's it about (in a nutshell):
It All Comes Down to This is a story about sisterhood, family, grief, and the many secrets we hold dear, even from loved ones. It uses dramatic irony effectively to tell a story of many twists, turns, and revelations.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I love that this book is written by an NC writer. The cover looks like a water painting of a coastal area complete with a sailboat, which attracts me as I love a setting with water. I noticed that the UK cover is different, which always intrigues me. The UK cover is more like a photo and depicts a mountain cabin on a lake. It's a very peaceful cover, while the US cover is a bit disjointed and requires study to figure out what you're looking at. This makes me uncertain about what to expect since the two covers are so different. From the blurb, I understand that the family's cottage in Maine is at the heart of the story and must be what's depicted on both covers. I imagine there will be dissent among the sisters as to what to do with the cottage and that it will play an essential role in their grief over their mom's passing and toward getting their own lives back on track.

Actual Reading Experience:
My actual reading experience was close to my initial expectations. What I did not expect, however, was my feelings about one of the earliest secrets revealed. This secret and the fact that it carried through the whole book left a bad taste in my mouth. Just imagining it in anything outside of a soap opera is too icky for me to stomach. I love dramatic irony, but not when it crosses that line where it begins to feel in too dark of a morally gray area. Other secrets were more relatable, though not as relatable as I expected. I would have loved for the house to play more of a role, but it sat calmly and quietly in the background for most of the story.

Now that I got all that off my chest, I want to look at what's good about this story.

The many secrets made the story flow and remain compelling from start to finish. How would they be revealed, and what would the consequences be kept me glued to the page. I loved the pace of the revelations as they came one after another at just the right time to hasten the pace.

The sisters lose their mother at the story's beginning, and I loved how their grief was handled. It felt very authentic. At first, I was doubtful, but as their grief progressed, I could more clearly see how each action and feeling is as genuine as any of us experience in such a situation.

I also loved that storytelling plays such a prominent role, especially in the writing and editing worlds. I always love a book about books, and stories play a much more central role than even the lake cabin in Maine. If that beautiful setting couldn't play a more prominent position, I'm glad storytelling had such an integral place.

Characters:
The characters are well-detailed and individualized. I loved that the three sisters are each so different. I can't say that I could relate to any at a level where I could feel empathy for their plight, but I was okay with that. I don't always have to have a character I like and/or can relate to if the story doesn't have room for such a character.

To Read or Not to Read:
If you love family stories about secrets and adore dramatic irony and soap opera-like revelations, It All Comes Down to This is a book you will want to consider this summer.
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The story is about 3 sisters who lose their matriarch to cancer. 
The story is also (supposed?) to be how C.J. Reynolds comes in and complicates things. But like, he doesn't even connect with them until the very end. He doesn't even complicate things for them, or anyone for that matter. 

The story flip-flops between C.J.'s story and the sisters. We get the background on all of them which leads up to the decisions they will make in the book. But they all seemed so....fake? C.J.'s story could have been more believable. From the first introduction to the last page, it was so far-fetched. 

And where the heck did the teacher go who was there for like 6 pages? Grr. So all over the place. 

The sister's seemed wildly self-absorbed. They barely talk to each other and then meet up and start sharing secrets? Also, the end of the story seemed so wrapped up in a perfect bow that it was truly, not believable.

There wasn't a likeable character. They were all self-absorbed. The more and more I think about this book, the more I dislike it. 

But, I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Therese Anne Fowler. I will let this one slide because I know her books are usually amazing but we need to go ahead and forget this one.
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This book was incredibly depressing from the start. I loved the cover and the idea of the book but the way it was presented it never gave me anything else other than a depressing story.
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THAT ENDING. I loved it. I’m such a sucker for narrators who address the reader. Such a guilty pleasure of mine, and this was no exception. SUCH A GOOD READ.
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