We Are Not Ourselves

A Novel

We Are Not Ourselves

New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 * Washington Post Top 50 Fiction List for 2014 * Entertainment Weekly Ten Best Fiction Books of 2014 * Esquire 5 Most Important Books of 2014 * Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014 * One of Janet Maslin’s Ten Favorite Books of the Year in The New York Times

The instant New York Times bestseller the Washington Post calls a “stunning…superbly rendered” novel, and Entertainment Weekly describes as “a gripping family saga, maybe the best…since The Corrections.”

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born.

Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Described by The New York Times Book Review as “A long, gorgeous epic, full of love and caring…one of the best novels you’ll read this year,” We Are Not Ourselves is a testament to our greatest desires and our greatest frailties. Through the lives of these characters, Thomas charts the story of the American Century. The result is, “stunning…The joys of this book are the joys of any classic work of literature—for that is what this is destined to become—superbly rendered small moments that capture both an individual life and the universality of that person’s experience” (The Washington Post).
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 640 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476756660 | 
  • August 2014

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for We Are Not Ourselves includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Matthew Thomas. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Epic in scope, heroic in character, and masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves is a multigenerational portrait of the Irish American Leary family.

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger stakes in the American Dream. Although she encourages him to want more, as the years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the see more

Articles About This Book

More Books from this Author

Destined to be a classic, this “powerfully moving” (Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding), multigenerational debut novel of an Irish-American family is nothing short of a “masterwork” (Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End).Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.When Eileen meets...

About the Author

Matthew Thomas
Photograph by Beowulf Sheehan

Matthew Thomas

Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel We Are Not Ourselves has been shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.

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