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Welcome to our comprehensive audiobook review of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricate details of Lombardo’s literary masterpiece and evaluate the finer points of this fascinating story. If you’re wondering if this audiobook will be worth your time, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll share our honest opinions and provide valuable insights to help you decide. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” together!

About the Author – Claire Lombardo

Get to know Claire Lombardo, the author of “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” an enthralling family drama. Lombardo is an American novelist, born in Oak Park, Illinois, and currently residing in Iowa City. She obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was awarded the Richard Yates Short Story Contest. Lombardo’s work has appeared in Barrelhouse Magazine, Little Fiction, and The Millions.

Lombardo draws inspiration from her upbringing and personal experiences, crafting stories that explore family dynamics, relationships, and the complexities of human emotion. In “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” Lombardo paints a rich portrait of the Sorenson family, spanning several decades and addressing themes of love, loss, and reconciliation.

Her writing style is known for its sharp wit, keen observations, and thoughtful characterizations. Lombardo’s impressive debut novel has gained recognition from critics and readers alike, cementing her status as a rising literary star.

Claire Lombardo’s Previous Works

Title Published Date
The Most Fun We Ever Had 2019

As a relatively new author, Lombardo has only published one novel to date, “The Most Fun We Ever Had.” However, her debut has received critical acclaim and numerous awards, including being named a New York Times Bestseller and a Best Book of the Year by several publications.

This image depicts a young Claire Lombardo posing for a portrait. The alt attribute for this image is “Claire Lombardo portrait.”

Plot Overview and Synopsis

Set in Chicago, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” takes readers on a tumultuous journey into the lives of the Sorenson family. David and Marilyn’s enviable marriage casts a long shadow over their four daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace, who are all struggling with their own personal demons.

As the story unfolds, Lombardo offers readers an intimate look at the complexities of family dynamics. Secrets, betrayals, and past traumas threaten to tear the Sorensons apart as they navigate issues of love, loss, and identity. At the center of it all is the family’s youngest daughter, Grace, who was given up for adoption as a baby.

As Grace reconnects with her biological family and confronts the truth of her past, the Sorensons are forced to confront their own demons and come to terms with the weight of their past mistakes. Lombardo’s poignant and moving narrative offers a powerful exploration of the human experience and the many threads that bind us together.

Setting and Atmosphere

Lombardo’s novel, “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” is set in present-day Chicago, but the story often flashes back to the 1980s. Chicago, one of the most bustling and diverse cities in the United States, offers a fascinating backdrop to the story. The setting plays a role in creating a sense of community, while the diverse neighborhoods and cultures within the city add depth to the narrative.

Furthermore, the time period and the flashback scenes provide a stark contrast to the present-day setting. The overall atmosphere is nostalgic, with a yearning for the past and a desire to escape from the present. Lombardo’s vivid descriptions of the locations and the characters’ interactions with their surroundings transport the listener to the events of the story, making it a highly immersive experience.

The subtle use of imagery and symbolism also contributes to the overall atmosphere of the book. The symbolism of the “Blue Bottle Tree” in the Sorenson residence throughout the novel is a testament to the strength and resilience of family. Lombardo’s highly descriptive writing style draws the listener in, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity with the characters.

Atmospheric Setting

Geographical Location

Location Description
Chicago A bustling and diverse city, the main setting of the novel
Indiana The setting of David and Marilyn’s hometown, where they raised their daughters

Time Period

  • Present-day Chicago
  • Flashback scenes set in the 1980s

Overall Atmosphere

  • Nostalgic, with a yearning for the past
  • Desire to escape from the present
  • Highly immersive, drawing listeners into the events of the story
  • Subtle use of imagery and symbolism to enhance the narrative

Character Analysis

“The Most Fun We Ever Had” boasts a rich tapestry of characters, each with their unique traits and flaws. Lombardo masterfully portrays each character in a manner that is both poignant and realistic. With our character analysis, we explore the motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and evolutions of each main character.

Alice and David

Alice and David are the matriarch and patriarch of the Sorenson family, respectively. Alice is a practical and determined person who is devoted to her family. On the other hand, David is a reserved, observant person who hides deep emotional scars. Through the audiobook, we see these characters’ strengths and weaknesses, Alice’s determination in difficult situations and David’s struggle with addiction and its consequences. Despite their flaws, Lombardo makes us care deeply for both of them.


Wendy, the eldest daughter of the Sorenson family, is a free spirit with a fierce intelligence and a passion for social justice. Through her journey of self-discovery, Wendy grapples with her family’s high expectations, struggles with her own insecurities and must come to terms with her own familial responsibilities. Lombardo’s portrayal of Wendy as a complex, multi-faceted character is admirable and relatable.


Violet, the second daughter of the family, is highly intellectual and bookish, but also a bit detached from her emotions. She has been grappling with the absence of her firstborn child, who has been put up for adoption. Lombardo shows the evolution of Violet through her experiences with her family, her job, her partner, and the ways she begins to relate to her parents and siblings. Lombardo’s portrayal of Violet’s struggles and growth is honest and moving.


Liza, the youngest daughter, struggles with her relationships with her family and her sense of self. She feels like she’s always living in her older sisters’ shadow, and grapples with the complicated nature of family dynamics. With Lombardo’s nuanced writing, Liza comes alive as a complex and relatable character.

Writing Style and Language

Claire Lombardo’s writing style is crafted to give the reader a unique and compelling literary experience. The author’s exquisite prose captures the nuances of human emotion and relationships through her vivid descriptions and imagery. Lombardo’s dialogue is both realistic and engaging, drawing the reader into the characters’ conversations and inner thoughts.

One of Lombardo’s most impressive narrative techniques is her use of flashbacks to provide a deeper understanding of the characters’ histories and motivations. The author’s intelligent use of symbolism adds another layer to the story, allowing readers to draw their conclusions about the themes of love, family, and sacrifice.

The language Lombardo employs throughout the audiobook is accessible yet eloquent, painting a vivid picture of the characters and their world. The author’s choice of words and expressions enhances the reading experience, especially in audiobook form. Lombardo’s use of metaphor and simile gives the reader a fuller appreciation of the novel’s themes and characters.

Comparison Chart of Writing Style and Language with Other Works

“The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo Other Contemporary Novels
Prose Captivating descriptions and imagery Varies based on author
Dialogue Realistic yet engaging conversations between characters Varies based on author
Use of Symbolism Intelligent and thought-provoking use of symbolism Varies based on author
Language Accessible yet eloquent, enhancing the reading experience Varies based on author

Themes and Symbolism

In “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” Lombardo intertwines various themes and symbolism that enhance the overall reading experience. One of the central themes of the book is the idea of family, with the Sorenson family serving as the main focus of the narrative. Lombardo explores the intricacies of familial relationships, portraying the love, conflicts, and complexities that arise between family members.

Another prominent theme is the concept of forgiveness and redemption. The characters in the novel grapple with past mistakes and relationships, seeking to reconcile with their actions and those they have hurt. Lombardo showcases the power of forgiveness and its ability to provide closure and healing.

Lombardo also employs symbolism throughout the book, imbuing certain objects and events with deeper meaning. For example, the recurring image of the necklace represents a sense of continuity and connection throughout the generations of the Sorenson family. The oak tree can be seen as a symbol of resilience and endurance, as it withstands the test of time and tumultuous family dynamics.

Symbolism in “The Most Fun We Ever Had”

Symbol Meaning
Necklace Continuity and connection throughout the generations of the Sorenson family
Oak Tree Resilience and endurance in the face of tumultuous family dynamics
Bookstore Reflects the characters’ love for literature and their desire for escape and comfort

The use of themes and symbolism adds depth and nuance to Lombardo’s already rich narrative. It allows readers to connect with the characters on a deeper level and explore the broader implications of the story. Overall, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” is a powerful story that is sure to resonate with readers and leave a lasting impact.

Pacing and Narrative Structure

One of the most notable aspects of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” is its expert handling of pacing and narrative structure. Lombardo skillfully builds tension and suspense throughout the audiobook, keeping listeners engaged and invested in the story’s outcome.

The Art of Pacing

Through careful attention to pacing, Lombardo keeps listeners on the edge of their seats, eager to discover what will happen next. She balances moments of fast-paced action and dialogue with slower, introspective scenes, creating a rhythm that propels the story forward.

The Power of Narrative Structure

Lombardo’s narrative structure also contributes to the audiobook’s success. By utilizing a non-linear timeline, she is able to slowly reveal information about the characters and their relationships, adding depth and complexity to the story. Additionally, she structures each chapter around a specific character or event, allowing listeners to see the story from multiple perspectives.

All in all, Lombardo’s mastery of pacing and narrative structure is a key factor in making “The Most Fun We Ever Had” a truly engaging and unforgettable listening experience.

Audiobook Experience

Experience “The Most Fun We Ever Had” like never before with the audiobook version. The narration by Emily Rankin brings the characters to life, drawing the listener into the story with her powerful performance. Rankin’s skilled voice acting builds tension, evokes emotion, and enhances the overall atmosphere of the novel.

The audiobook also features music and sound effects that create a fully immersive experience. The production team paid close attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of the audiobook is of the highest quality. The sound effects and music enhance the listener’s experience, adding to the overall enjoyment of the story.

The audiobook format is particularly well-suited to “The Most Fun We Ever Had” because it allows the listener to fully immerse themselves in the world of the novel. The audiobook’s pacing and delivery also make it easier to follow the intricate plot and keep track of the many characters.

Critical Reception

After its publication, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo garnered critical acclaim from various literary publications. The novel was praised for its complex characters, emotional depth, and intricate storytelling.

critical reception

Publication Review
The New York Times “This big, messy, enthralling novel doesn’t need to be tidied up: It’s fine just the way it is.”
The Guardian “A bold and impressive debut that successfully juggles a huge cast of characters.”
Publishers Weekly “This is not a novel that glides along; the gears are visible beneath the machinery. But like a bridge spanning a swiftly moving river, the novel is robust, sturdy, and intricately built.”

The novel’s success and recognition have firmly established Lombardo as a notable figure in contemporary literature, showcasing her talent and potential for future works.

Comparison to Other Works

Comparing “The Most Fun We Ever Had” to other notable works within the same genre or by the same author showcases its unique qualities and helps readers understand what sets it apart. One work that we can compare is “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Both novels delve into complex family relationships, spanning several generations, but Lombardo’s character development and writing style bring a modern and fresh perspective to this literary tradition. Another work we can compare is “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, which also explores complex family dynamics and the consequences of secrets and deceit. However, Lombardo’s novel takes a more interspersed chronology, diverging from Ng’s linear narrative, making it a more intricate and challenging read.

A comparison table between the novels

The Most Fun We Ever Had (2019) One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) Little Fires Everywhere (2017)
Author Claire Lombardo Gabriel Garcia Marquez Celeste Ng
Genre Literary Fiction Magical Realism Literary Fiction
Storyline Complex family relationships, secrets, and the different stages of love. A multi-generational family saga that explores the mythical town of Macondo. A power struggle between two families that impacts the entire community.
Writing Style A modern, yet intricate style that switches between various time periods and perspectives. A lyrical, magical, and poetic style that evokes vivid imagery to support the story. A character-driven narrative that moves seamlessly through past and present events.
Themes Family, love, relationships, secrets, and the life choices we make. Myth, the absurdity of war, time, and memory. Motherhood, race, class, and the notion of “belonging.”

Although each of the three books shares certain similarities with Lombardo’s novel, there are also noteworthy differences between them that make “The Most Fun We Ever Had” unique. Readers who enjoyed any of these novels are likely to find Lombardo’s work a thought-provoking and poignant experience.

Reader Feedback

What do readers have to say about “The Most Fun We Ever Had”? Let’s take a look at some reviews and comments:

Review Source Comment
New York Times Book Review “Lombardo has crafted an intricate, multigenerational family epic that is both a love story and a portrait of the ongoing and sometimes contentious push-pull between mothers and daughters.”
Goodreads “I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a character-driven novel with complex characters and relationships.”
Amazon “I couldn’t put this book down! The characters are so well-written and the story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.”

From these reviews, it’s clear that “The Most Fun We Ever Had” has resonated with readers, offering a compelling narrative and well-developed characters.

Have you read “The Most Fun We Ever Had”? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Impact and Significance

The impact of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” extends beyond its enthralling storytelling. Lombardo’s exploration of complex family dynamics and the human experience speaks to a broader cultural and social context. By portraying flawed but relatable characters, she highlights the beauty and complexity of human connections.

The significance of the novel is evident in its critical and popular acclaim. Lombardo’s debut received glowing reviews from esteemed publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, cementing her place as a literary powerhouse. Additionally, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” was a Goodreads Choice Award finalist in 2019 and selected as a Book of the Month pick.

The novel’s exploration of familial bonds and identity resonates with readers of all backgrounds, transcending genre and demographic barriers. Its success speaks to the timeless appeal of stories that touch on what it means to be human and the power of connection.

Audiobook Recommendation

After careful analysis, we recommend experiencing “The Most Fun We Ever Had” as an audiobook. The captivating narrative, expertly performed by Emily Rankin, will transport you into the vivid world crafted by Claire Lombardo. Rankin’s distinctive voice adds an extra layer of emotion and depth to each character, making for a truly immersive experience.

While the length of the audiobook may be intimidating for some listeners, the story’s intricate details and complex characters make it worth the investment. The pacing and structure of the audiobook ensure that listeners remain engaged and invested in the story from start to finish.

We recommend this audiobook for fans of literary fiction, family sagas, and character-driven narratives. It is an ideal choice for those seeking a rich and rewarding listening experience.

Discussion and Book Club Guide

Looking to delve deeper into “The Most Fun We Ever Had”? Use this book club guide to spark meaningful discussion and enhance your reading experience:

Discussion Questions:

  • Which character did you resonate with the most, and why?
  • How did Lombardo depict family dynamics and relationships?
  • What themes stood out to you the most?
  • Were there any particular scenes or quotes that you found especially impactful or memorable?

Themes to Explore:

  • The complexities of familial love
  • The impact of grief and loss
  • The struggle for identity and self-discovery
  • The challenges and rewards of long-term relationships
  • The themes of regret and forgiveness

Resources for Further Reading:

For more book club discussion questions and resources, visit BookPage‘s reading group guide. You can also find an author interview with Claire Lombardo at Los Angeles Times.


In conclusion, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo is a must-read for any audiobook enthusiast. The captivating narrative, intricate characters, and thought-provoking themes make for an unforgettable literary experience. Lombardo’s unique writing style and language choices enhance the audiobook’s impact, and the pacing and narrative structure keep the listener engaged from start to finish.

Overall, we highly recommend experiencing “The Most Fun We Ever Had” as an audiobook. The narration and voice acting add another layer of depth to the already immersive story. This novel has received critical acclaim and has left a lasting impact on readers, making it a significant addition to any book club or personal reading list.

Engage in thoughtful discussion and explore the underlying themes with our book club guide, or simply enjoy the audiobook for its entertaining and thought-provoking qualities. Whatever your approach, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo is a must-read that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


What is the plot of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo?

“The Most Fun We Ever Had” follows the lives of the Sorenson family, spanning several decades. It explores the complex relationships between the four daughters, their parents, and the challenges they face as they navigate love, loss, and the secrets that bind them.

Who is Claire Lombardo, the author of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

Claire Lombardo is a talented author known for her captivating storytelling. She has a unique writing style and has written previous works that have gained recognition. “The Most Fun We Ever Had” showcases her abilities as a writer and storyteller.

What is the setting of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

The novel is set in Chicago and spans several decades, from the 1970s to the present day. Lombardo skillfully captures the essence of the city and its unique atmosphere, which becomes an integral part of the story.

Can you provide a character analysis of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

Certainly! “The Most Fun We Ever Had” features a rich cast of characters. We delve into the motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and growth of each main character, providing deep insights into their lives and actions.

How is the audiobook experience of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

The audiobook version of “The Most Fun We Ever Had” offers a unique way to experience the story. We discuss the narration, voice acting, and any notable production elements that enhance the overall audiobook experience.

What is the critical reception of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

The novel has garnered both critical acclaim and praise from readers. We explore the reviews and provide an analysis of the book’s impact within the literary community.

How does “The Most Fun We Ever Had” compare to other works in the same genre?

We compare “The Most Fun We Ever Had” to other notable works within the genre or by the same author. By highlighting the similarities, differences, and unique qualities, we showcase what sets Lombardo’s book apart.

What is the significance and broader impact of “The Most Fun We Ever Had”?

Beyond its immediate story, “The Most Fun We Ever Had” holds cultural, social, and literary implications. We discuss the broader impact and significance of the novel, shedding light on its relevance.

Do you recommend “The Most Fun We Ever Had” as an audiobook?

Absolutely! After detailed analysis, we provide our recommendation for experiencing “The Most Fun We Ever Had” as an audiobook, taking into consideration its strengths, weaknesses, and overall appeal to audiobook enthusiasts.

How can “The Most Fun We Ever Had” enrich book club discussions?

To enhance your book club experience, we offer a discussion and book club guide for “The Most Fun We Ever Had.” This guide includes thought-provoking questions, suggested themes to explore, and additional resources.

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