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The Last Romantics

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The Last Romantics

February 2019

THE LAST ROMANTICS by Tara Conklin is the story of four siblings. It opens in the year 2079, which threw me at the beginning. I am not someone who enjoys futuristic books with a sci-fi feel, so I was trying to figure out why Tara opened here. It ends up it was to give readers a chance to look at the family and its dynamic way into the future. In the opening, Fiona Skinner, the youngest daughter in the family, is 102 years old. She is a poet of some renown for a poem she wrote called “The Love Poem,” which looks at the meaning of love. This opener gives her a vehicle to plunge back and tell her family’s story.

Thus in chapter two, readers find themselves in 1981 in the town of Bexley, Connecticut. Ellis Avery Skinner, a dentist, has died suddenly at the young age of 34 while working on a patient. The children --- Renee (11), Caroline (8), Joe (7) and Fiona (4) --- are uprooted from the large home in which they live to a small home on the “other” side of town, as money becomes tight. The mother, Antonia, who is known as Noni, quietly slips into a breakdown and leaves the kids on their own. This period in the family’s life will be called “The Pause” and will last a few years, having a deep impact on the children.

When The Pause ends, after an aunt comes to help sort out the family, Noni takes charge of her life, determined that she will not rely on a man again. She emerges a much stronger woman. But the children still suffer from the lack of attention during the years of The Pause.

Joe, the only boy, is idolized. His talent on the baseball field is cheered. But at the same time, Joe has a darker side that the family sees and tries to deal with. And soon they find themselves plunged into another crisis, one that the adult children will have to cope with. The girls, now women, are all so different. Renee is a doctor, Caroline is settled with her family, and Fiona is running a blog called “The Last Romantic,” where she writes about the men she has sex with. Each character flexes muscle and moves in new directions as the story unfolds. And there is a twist at the end that made me smile.

I found myself thinking of THE IMMMORTALISTS as I read THE LAST ROMANTICS. The four very different siblings and their very different lives made for some strong storytelling.

And, oh, 2079 made a great deal of sense…and gave Tara a lot of freedom to tell the story.

If Tara’s name is familiar, you may remember her debut, THE HOUSE GIRL, which came out in 2013.

The Last Romantics
by Tara Conklin

  • Publication Date: February 5, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062358200
  • ISBN-13: 9780062358202