Instant New York Times bestseller
First pick for Jenna Bush Hager's new
TODAY SHOW Book Club
BARNES & NOBLE Book Club Pick
An AMAZON Best of the Month in Fiction & Literature
Named a Best Book of February 2019 by:
Goodreads • Lithub • Refinery29 • InStyle • HelloGiggles • Real Simple • Parade • PureWow • Apple Books • Bustle
The New York Times-bestselling author of The House Girl explores the lives of four siblings in this ambitious and absorbing novel in the vein of Commonwealth and The Interestings.
“The greatest works of poetry, what makes each of us a poet, are the stories we tell about ourselves. We create them out of family and blood and friends and love and hate and what we’ve read and watched and witnessed. Longing and regret, illness, broken bones, broken hearts, achievements, money won and lost, palm readings and visions. We tell these stories until we believe them.”
It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected.
Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.
A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.
"The Last Romantics is moving and utterly engrossing, a juicy tale of the heart that never insults its reader’s intelligence." — USA Today
"A book that beautifully understands its characters ... Conklin is an accomplished storyteller. ... The Last Romantics leaves its characters — and its dazzled readers — surrounded by a halo of love." — The Seattle Times
“Pick up The Last Romantics when you want to be swept into a fictional family....As the narrative traces [the Skinner siblings’] converging and diverging paths over the course of their lives—and promises made, kept, broken, changed — you’ll fall deeper and deeper in.” — Goop
“A modern epic...in the vein of Commonwealth, The Last Romantics is a sweeping look at what binds families together.” — Glamour
"A rich family drama for fans of Commonwealth and This is Where I Leave You." — Real Simple
“Perfectly paced, affecting fiction.” — Booklist
“An intimate, soul-searing examination of a modern family and the ties that bind, for better or worse.”
— Stefanie Hargreaves, Shelf Awareness Galley Love of the Week
“Intensely moving.” — Shanina Piyarali, Shelf Awareness
"Tara Conklin is a generous writer who deftly brings us into the world of this fictional family, an engrossing and vivid place where I was happy to stay. The Last Romantics is a richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming." — Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings
"Tara Conklin's The Last Romantics is a triumph of storytelling, an ambitious examination of the failures of love and how we, against all odds, find a way to survive. The writing is stunning, in service of a story that you won't be able to resist, pulling you deeper and deeper into a world that Conklin has so lovingly constructed. A complex, resonant work that will reshape your understanding of family."
— Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang and Perfect Little World
“It is a brave thing to write in the voice of a world-renowned centenarian poet, but damn if Tara Conklin doesn’t pull it off. In fact, all of the luxuriously spun characters in The Last Romantics, entwined via that impossible web we call family, unfold over their many years with the perfect balance of familiarity and wonder that makes turning their pages such a pleasure."
— Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
"I loved Tara Conklin’s first novel, The House Girl; her second was worth the wait. Impeccably written with characters that absorbed me completely, I was swept away by The Last Romantics. A moving, ambitious, and nuanced family epic and a beautiful meditation on love, loss, grief and forgiveness.”
— Cristina Alger, national bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife
"A haunting story of familial love, loyalty and loss that will break your heart and then put the pieces back together again in better working condition. An impossible book to put down." — Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost
"When elder poet Fiona Skinner is asked to explain the origins of her famous Love Poem, her mind skips back to her family of origin, and the sacrifices, devotion, and secrets kept between them. Following the four Skinner siblings from a childhood tragedy through to their later years, The Last Romantics is a sweeping exploration of love it its many forms-- and of the grief, longing, pride, regret, and everything else that powerful force brings forth in all of us."
— Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and June
PRAISE FROM BOOKSELLERS
"Oh my!!! I was so moved by this book! Fiona, Renee, Caroline and, of course, Joe invaded my imagination and kept me spellbound until the end. It brought me to tears. Siblings! Many of us have them and often don’t think about the nuances of our relationships. Tara’s story brought my siblings to mind and questions ensued that can’t be pursued on paper. Memories are such powerful things and affect our lives in compelling ways. There is so much love in this story! It’s absolutely wonderful! Please read it!”
— Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
“I feel compelled to express how much I adored my galley of Tara Conklin's The Last Romantics. I'm still really high on having just finished it, but as time goes on, I believe I will maintain that it is one of the best books about sibling relationships ever. Full stop. I miss it already!”
— Katherine Klockenkemper, Parnassus Bookstore, Nashville, TN
"Tara Conklin has done it again. This is a gorgeous breathtaking novel. An elderly poet looks back on her childhood amidst a post-apocalyptic vision of the United States. The outer world may be chaotic, but Fiona Skinner's inner life is also a place of turmoil. After the death of her father, and the cataclysmic depression of her mother, Fiona and her siblings are left to a feral existence. These years leave their mark on all the children as they grow and find success and tragedy. THE LAST ROMANTICS is a haunting family drama that will make readers sigh and say ‘This is why we read.’”
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
"This book is absolutely fantastic. Tara Conklin touches on the heart strings of family, the ups and downs of trying to make it as an adult (in the 2000's) and the complicated ways we hold, create and respond to life. This book is elegant, thoughtful and a pleasure to read.”
— Kimberly Daniels Taws, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
"There are those books where you seem to sink into them, occupying the space beside the characters as they go through their trials. The Last Romantics is one of those very special books. It begins in the year 2079, with Fiona Skinner, famed poet. Poets fill stadiums, the Second Amendment has been done away with, and Fiona is taking questions from her fans in one of her last events. A girl named Luna comes to the microphone, asks her the question Fiona has never publicly answered, and sends her back into the past to the story of she and her siblings. You become one of the Skinner siblings, a part of their feral summer in their youth when their mother is in the Pause, and when they are adults, managing the complications of family ties and responsibilities. Their challenging childhood makes them fiercely loyal to each other, and those ties remain well into their adulthood. The Last Romantics is beautifully told, heart-wrenching, and will stay in your mind and in your heart long after you finish the last page. There are so many moments in this novel that had me thinking, eager to get home and pick up where I left off. Tara’s writing is elegant, easy to read, thought-provoking, and honest. I can’t wait for all my friends to read it so I finally have someone to discuss it with!” — Kym Havens, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA
“A family tale of deep love and fierce loyalty which shapes the characters of the four siblings around whom the story develops. Childhood tragedies forge the protective bonds around the three sisters and their adored brother, narrated with superb skill in the first half of the book. As the siblings lead their own disparate lives as adults, the bonds remain though less visible, until another tragedy leaves them to confront a mountain of unanswered questions. The youngest sister, Fiona, a renowned poet, uses this pivotal event as inspiration for her iconic work, 'The Last Romantics.' The novel opens with a question from a young woman to the 102-year old Fiona about the inspiration that brought about the complex journey of decades that is Fiona’s book, ‘The Last Romantics’.”— Alexandra Reid, Book Ends
"When I saw Tara Conklin’s ARE at the SIBA conference I immediately stopped because I remembered receiving the ARE of The House Girl. I thought it was an exceptional book and I’m quite sure I gave it an Indie recommendation. I was a bit puzzled by the title and wondered if it were possible that Conklin could do a follow up that would do justice to The House Girl. When I got home I tucked it into my reading stack. It was four from the top and I started reading it two days ago. I wish I’d placed it at the top. Tara not only met any vague hope I had for a good book, The Last Romantics blew me away with page after page of fine writing, beautifully flawed and all too human characters, and a couple moments where I admit I simply wiped away tears. ... Congratulations Tara on a book I’m sure will become a best seller. I can’t wait to read your next creation but if taking your time between books helps you produce such a follow up then take your time, not too long mind you. I’ll be waiting. " — Zora de Bodisco, BOOKER Bookstore, Gulfport, FL
"An ancient poet, Fiona Skinner, is conducting a presentation of her work in the year 2077. A simple question from a member of the audience regarding the enigmatic Luna in one of her most renowned pieces leads Fiona to open up for the first time publicly on the story of her family. The ruminations carry the reader back to the more current time period to a small Connecticut town where Fiona and her sibling's lives are forever altered by the sudden death of their father, the resulting financial ruin, their mother's debilitating depression, and the behavioral shift of their golden boy brother. There are so many forces at work in this character driven novel: grief, mental illness, addiction, betrayal, and overall, the strength of familial bonds. Tara Conklin sweepingly navigates through time and place with some of the most masterfully crafted points of view I've read in quite some time.”
— Damita Nockton, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
"Family history, explored in ways that will make you laugh and cry, and remember pieces of childhood that you may have had." — Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, NY