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Extended Audio Sample We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel, by Matthew Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Matthew Thomas Narrator: Mare Winningha Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as 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 reality they have known and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art, one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The mind is a mystery no less than the heart. In We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas has written a masterwork on both, as well as an anatomy of the American middle class in the twentieth Century. It’s all here: how we live, how we love, how we die, how we carry on. And Thomas does it with the epic sweep and small pleasures of the very best fiction. It’s humbling and heartening to read a book this good.”

    Joshua Ferris, New York Times bestselling author of Then We Came to the End

  • “Astonishing and powerful…Thomas’s finely observed tale is riveting. As a reflection of American society in the late twentieth century, it’s altogether epic, sweeping the reader along on a journey that’s both inexorable and poignant.”


  • “This is an ambitious, beautifully written novel about ambition and what it can do and not do. It deals with the classic American Dream in all its messy complications…The writing does not draw attention to itself, but attention should be paid. Thomas, who worked on the novel for a decade while teaching high school English, has a way with sentences.”

    USA Today

  • “A gripping family saga, maybe the best I’ve read since The Corrections.”

    Entertainment Weekly, Grade: A

  • “[A] masterly debut.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “The novel’s description of the remorseless progress of [Alzheimer’s]…reads like a tortuous descent into hell…Amazingly, however, We Are Not Ourselves isn’t ultimately depressing. Written in calm, polished prose, following one family as its members journey through the decades in an American landscape that is itself in flux, it’s a long, gorgeous epic, full of love and life and caring. It’s even funny, in places—and it’s one of the best novels you’ll read this year.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In his powerful and significant debut novel, Thomas masterfully evokes one woman’s life in the context of a brilliantly observed Irish working-class milieu…Thomas’ emotional truthfulness combines with the novel’s texture and scope to create an unforgettable narrative.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The debut author has created a memorable character in Eileen, who is both intelligent and clueless, focusing on her ideals and fantasies and attempting vainly to make reality conform to her aspirations. The depiction of Ed’s illness is realistic, powerful, artistically delivered, and occasionally humorous, and readers will be drawn in.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A highly anticipated Irish-American family saga.”


  • "We Are Not Ourselves is a powerfully moving book, and the figure of Eileen Leary—mother, wife, daughter, lover, nurse, caretaker, whiskey drinker, upwardly mobile dreamer, retrenched protector of values—is a real addition to our literature.”

    Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding

  • “Each page is suffused with a relentless and probing genius, as well as a generous and humane heart, and the result not only explodes across the darkening sky, but remains with you long after you’ve finished the last page and handed it to someone you love. So long as there are novels like We Are Not Ourselves, so long as there are writers like Matthew Thomas, the form of the novel is more than alive, it is thriving, palpitant.”

    Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children

  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
  • A June 2014 Entertainment Weekly “Must Read”
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick for August 2014
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, August 2014
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2014 New York Times Notable Book
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