About The Ramblers• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 4, 2016)
For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City. Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled. Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams. Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.
About Aidan Donnelley RowleyBorn and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University. She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hours Literary Salons. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters. Find Aidan on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
I highly recommend this book mainly because I really like Aidan Donnelley Rowley's voice: I admire how she tells the stories of the three ramblers, Clio, Smith, and Tate. All three are well-drawn and interesting. I found myself caring for them and wanting them to find peace. Clio's heartbreaking childhood, her panic attacks, and her reluctance to commit to a lovely man make her a sympathetic character. Rowley's ability to describe panic attacks, not just the physical symptoms but also Clio's thought processes is incredible. Tate is blindsided by his cheating wife of thirteen years. His creation of an app and the subsequent lucrative sell of said app gives him the freedom to pursue his art: photography. Smith is a little harder for me to relate to because she has overbearing parents who give her an apartment in the historic San Remo upon her earning degree a from Yale (all three of the main characters are Yale alumni). She's a conundrum because she's willing to accept an apartment that puts her in the same building as her parents, yet she's rebellious in that she's willing to convert to Islam before being dumped by her Pakistani fiancé.
Rowley cleverly constructs the story of these ramblers in and around the Central Park setting of The Ramble, a 36-acre area of the park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead meant to encourage visitors to get lost in nature. Clio, an ornithologist, leads guided bird walks through the Ramble each Sunday. Participants forget that they're in the middle of one of the world's most vibrant cities, and they enjoy seeing and discussing the variety of birds during their time together. Clio, Tate, and Smith are surely lost souls struggling with hurt, abandonment, loss, and betrayal. All three are derailed by others' actions and are no longer following a straight path: