Cover Image: It All Comes Down to This

It All Comes Down to This

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Member Reviews

Marti Geller knows she’s dying and it’s coming soon. She gathers strength to get ready, including selling her summer cottage. After her death, we follow her three daughters Beck, Claire, and Sophia and the burdens they struggle with after her death.

This book touched me emotionally as I have three daughters. This book felt more soap opera than a moving story, so in a way it fell a bit flat for me.
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I have never been disappointed in this author’s ability to tell a terrific story and this one is no exception. I loved this book! In the same style as her previous novel, A Good Neighborhood, Fowler creates a family saga that is gripping and heartwarming throughout. This story begins with the matriarch, Marti, who is the mother to 3 grown daughters. She comes to find out that her battle with cancer has reached the extent of medical intervention and she is placed on at home hospice care. She has already decided that she will tell the daughters, but insists that she does not want the hovering that occurs towards the end of life in these situations to be part of her dying process. She spends her time laying out her wishes once she passes with incredible detail. She plans her funeral and lays out very specific wishes within her will. 
She feels strongly about specific aspects of her eventual passing, including forcing the family to work together to close the estate. One of the main aspects of her will states that the family “summer camp”, a rustic house in Maine should be sold and the profits split between the daughters. Between the apartment in NYC and this camp, there are a lot of memories that have been forgotten in the business of daily lives. 
The character development is wonderful. The reader can predict how each daughter will handle a given situation. I love this style of writing and flew through this story. I personally connected with some characters better than others, and frankly found one to be annoying when we first meet her. Over the course of the novel, it is easy to develop an understanding of the motivations and the growth of each character. I appreciated every character and their story.
My only “negative” is that I was able to predict part of the plot about halfway through the story. I generally do not enjoy it when this happens, but I think it was because the characters were fleshed out brilliantly and each storyline was told well enough to allow this to happen and my enjoyment of the story and investment in the characters remained high.
Highly recommend!

#ItAllComesDownToThis #Netgalley #StMartinsPress
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I liked this messy family drama just fine but I was never totally engrossed. I enjoyed it enough to finish it so I could recommend it to the right reader. 

It All Comes Down to This is a very character driven novel. It is about the Gellers. The three Geller Sisters are not very tight. They all try to look better than their siblings. There is an invisible competition between them. Beck (44), Claire (40) and Sophie (36) are in very different places in life. Their mom Marti dies. She reveals a big secret to them on her deathbed. And she also instructs them to sell the camp, their summer cottage in Maine. Beck is "happily" married to Paul. They are more like friends than partners after over 20years of marriage. She is content with not having any sex in her marriage, she thinks Paul is gay, and she is okay with it. She just wants to stay in the cottage and write the novel she'd been planning for years. Her sister's though could use the money that would come from the sale especially Sophie, who has a lavish lifestyle and is drowning in debt. There is also tension between Claire and Beck. Claire avoids her sister because she's been desperately in love with Beck's husband for a long time. This infatuation has cost Claire her marriage and Beck has no idea. There also another character back in Maine, CJ, their prospective house buyer.    

Each character has a unique voice. Fowler's writing makes them come alive. The Geller's are not one of these fictional families you would kill to be part of. They are distant. Each sister is a little bit selfish. 

The older sister-husband-younger sister love triangle is not as icky as it sounds. When I first read the synopsis I wasn't sure about whether it would bother me but it didn't. The youngest sister Sophie was my least favorite character because I found her very superficial. 

I expected more of a The Paper Palace feel from the camp/cabin setting but I was disappointed in that aspect. The scene that the three sisters had the big talk and got every secret off their chest was intense but satisfying. The ending was a bit too neat but it worked.

I have a feeling an older audience would enjoy this novel more. 

I liked the following quote though "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find you get what you need.
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Unfortunately, this one did not work for me. I read until the halfway point and then decided to move on. 

This had the potential to be a really great character driven story. The sisters are all unique and well developed by the author. The issue was that there didn't really seem to be a plot. Nothing had really happened in the first half of the book, the sisters had just come together for the first time at that point. 

The writing was well done, it just didn't have enough plot to keep me reading.
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This story hooked me immediately. I have several special women in my life who are part of 3-girl families so it’s fun for me to read about that dynamic. I really enjoyed Beck and Claire, although Sophie was the least believable and/or likable to me. I loved getting the glimpse’s of Marti’s past and how Fowler interwove the stories. C.J. was also an interesting character and I particularly liked his ending. This was an absorbing family drama with great characters. I enjoyed Fowler’s writing and would read more by her.
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Three sisters lose their mother and because of the terms of the will they are forced to be to work together to sort out the details of the estate.  At one time they were close but time has passed and their lives have diverged. From New York, Minneapolis and Mount Desert Island, Maine all come together to tell the story of a family.  A story of love & forgiveness; of secrets kept and secrets learned. A tale of growth, love and finding what truly matters.
A great summer read for men and women alike.
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It All Comes Down to This, by Therese Anne Fowler, is an absorbing read.  The four main characters are very different, fully developed, and compelling, each in her own way.  None are totally likable although their individual conflicts and demons become clear as the story progresses.  At any stage of life, we are all making choices. Reality and change may require new choices if we are to be happy.

Other reviewers have noted that the pacing of this novel is awkward.  I agree.  The wrap-up was hurried and unsatisfying. Imagine expecting a full-course Thanksgiving dinner and getting a cold turkey TV plate.  All the elements are there, but it lacks the essential experience.  Nonetheless, this book does raise issues with which many of us grapple.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Publishing for the opportunity to read a digital ARC.
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I adored Fowler's previous novel A Good Neighborhood. Strong characters, compelling themes, and good plotting all came together to make a memorable novel with a really tangible setting and a credibility to it; the characters felt like MY neighbors. 

I got this book on the strength of that one, as well as its 3 adult sisters motif, and it didn't work for me. I can see that other reviewers loved it so maybe it's me?

I didn't find the characters thoroughly drawn; they felt more like pawns that were useful for the plot but did not feel like real people to me. And the plot! Full of implausibilities (Sophie's whole life, a certain chance meeting late in the novel), and it had a really big hole concerning the mother's motivation in a certain decision about property disposition in her will (trying to avoid a spoiler here!).
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It All Comes Down to This was a great read by Therese Anne Fowler. Beck, Claire, and Sophie are three strong-minded women. They are the Geller sisters that find out their mother Marti will be dying soon. Marti has ensured that the modest estate is easy for the family after she passes. The only provision included is that the families summer cottage be sold, and the proceeds split equally between the three girls. Beck is the oldest and he marriage doesn’t look like others. Her husband is hiding a troubling truth about their love lives. Beck feels that the cottage is essential for her secret wish to write a novel. Claire is a pediatric cardiologist that has always felt like the misfit in the family. Her unrequited love or the wrong man has destroyed her and her marriage. Sophie is the youngest daughter who seems to have the perfect life, at least on Instagram. C.J. Reynolds’s is an enigmatic southerner who wants the cottage but is also hiding his own past. I enjoyed reading this book and cant wait to read more by the author.
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Man, I was a bit disappointed in this slow burn of a book. I had high hopes but honestly it fell flat. It took a lot for me to get into it as I really wasn't invested in any of the characters storylines and found them a bit underdeveloped. Overall 2/5 stars from me.
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Family drama unfolds as the Geller sisters settle their deceased mother’s estate.
This book is my idea of a perfect summer beach read: love triangles, rekindled old flames, family secrets, and the family vacation home’s fate. I love how different each Geller sister is (instagram influencer, doctor, and a writer). Their wants and needs intersect to heighten the drama. Each sister has a secret and revealing these secrets to each other finally allows them to authentically live. I am not a fan of traditional romance, chick lit books, so I felt that this was a great cross between a literary fiction novel and a romance novel. High brow romance, maybe? 

Fowler’s writing is rich and a pleasure to read. I enjoyed this much more than her last novel.
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I do love a good story about a modern messy family, and was intrigued by the comparisons to Jane Austen novels. Unfortunately I found this story had more style than substance—but what style! Fowler's prose is completely gorgeous.
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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.



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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