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Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  4,064 ratings  ·  505 reviews

Labor Day, 1976, Martha's Vineyard. Summering at the family beach house along this moneyed coast of New England, Fern and Edgar—married with three children—are happily preparing for a family birthday celebration when they learn that the unimaginable has occurred: There is no more money. More specifically, there's no more money in the estate of Fern's recently deceased pare

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Terri Fern's parents were old money - they then spent and donated it all and didn't leave anything for Fern to inherit except the family home. In order for …moreFern's parents were old money - they then spent and donated it all and didn't leave anything for Fern to inherit except the family home. In order for Fern & Edgar to take advantage of his parents' wealth, he would have to give up his book writing and agree to return and run the family steel business, something he didn't have to do when they were living on Fern's family money.(less)
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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Diane S ☔
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 Edgar is from new money, his father owns a steel mill in Chicago, and his parents use their money to create an impression. Feen, is from old money, her parents are more decorous in their display of their wealth. They marry, Vietnam calls, though Edgar has strings pulled on his behalf. They have three children, but all the while Edgar is conflicted about money, well until the money is gone and Fern tells him in order to support their family has may have to go to work for his father and give u ...more
May 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
In 1976, Fern and Edgar were a well-to-do couple with three children. They are enjoying their summer at their beach house in New England as usual when they learn that all of their money is gone. The shock of this news sends Fern and Edgar off on their own fantasy adventures. Edgar takes off with an uninhibited younger woman and Fern takes off with Mac, a giant (just a very large man). Each thinks the other parent is at home with the children but the children are left alone. Cricket, only 9 years ...more
Tyler Goodson
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars, arcs
Don't be fooled. This novel is ten novels in one. One about a marriage faltering. One about a woman crossing the country with a giant. One about a doomed sea voyage. One about three children left on their own for days. No it is not a fairy tale. It is deeply feeling and human and astonishingly rich. Ramona Ausubel is so good that every page contains as much life and magic as a novel needs. Every paragraph, even. Reading it feels like reading for the first time, before you knew something could be ...more
Jul 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
I found this to be ridiculous nonsense about unbelievable characters I had no interest in. Cannot figure out what the fuss was about and why it got such good reviews. A total waste of my time--I read all of it, kept waiting for it to live up to the hype--it didn't. ...more
Steph VanderMeulen
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoyed Fates & Furies and The Nest, you'll like this book even more. I did! The writing is lovely and poetic and evocative, and the story is not only wonderfully imaginative with a touch of what smacks of magic realism but isn't; it is also beautifully enriched by the varying depths of emotion and intelligence and intuition in the characters, like multilevel drops in an ocean floor.

This is the kind of novel I have to distance myself from to write about, because I'm flooded right now, li
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Guys I would fucking LOVE a summerhouse. Can you imagine me in my summerhouse, wearing short shorts, drinking pink fucking fizz and popping nurofen because the sun hurts my head. I was reading this and i kept thinking of Ina and Jeffrey (because The Barefoot Contessa is my only reference for how rich people live) losing their home in the Hamptons and having affairs, total nightmare. This novel dealt some blows to the heart, and raised a bunch of interesting points about white privilege and the g ...more
May 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2016
Fern, Edgar, their daughter and twin sons return to Cambridge after spending the summer at their beach house in Martha’s Vineyard. Fern has heard from her deceased parents’ lawyer that all of her money is gone and unless Edgar returns to work for his father, they will be unable to continue their current lifestyle. Fern is a housewife and Edgar is writing a book.

I found Fern and Edgar to be two deplorable individuals, never having grown up, both dismissive of their parents’ money, but willing to
May 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm sad that I really had a hard time getting into this. But I also have a hard time with people who think they don't have to work for a living. Like they can just live off someone else's money and play all day. Don't even get me started on the immediate jump into infidelity after finding out the money well ran dry and child abandonment. ...more
Bill Kupersmith
Jan 27, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf
Clearly not going to work for me. Characters & settings simply do not ring true & the mock wedding in the Alzheimer's memory unit was utterly pathetic. ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I was so eager to read Ramona Ausubel's Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty that I ordered it directly from Washington state. I adored her debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us, which was published in 2012, and takes place in Romania during the Second World War. The storyline of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty is rather different, but no less compelling.

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, which has been so wonderfully received, begins in Martha's Vineyard on Labor Day, 1976, an
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty has a promising title. On reading it one envisions a timely piece of fiction about wealth and privilege in the United States. In practice the book is much more straightforward: it's a story of an unwinding marriage in New England. In chapters that alternate between the 1960s and 1970s we discover that Fern comes from old money and grieves for the loss of her twin brother, while Edgar is the only child (and thus subject to the unrealistically high expectation ...more
Chandler Gonzales
Sep 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
I only read the first 50-75 pages of this book, before I decided to give up. The book was not the worst I have ever read, but it was certainly aiming for the title. There were an unpleasant amount of grammatical errors, which only distracted from a story that seemed very lacking in substance and overall thought. The characters were not well explained, and had little to no emotion showing in their characters. Even a scene in which a man cheats on his wife for the first time was described with as ...more
nikkia neil
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks Penguin first to read for this ARC.

This novel has so many layers and pathways for us explore. Are we ever happy with what we have? Does everyone think the grass is greener on the other side? And do we have to lose what we have to appreciate it? This novel asks us all these questions, but we get to form our own opinions. I like that the author doesn't choose the best way or preach a point of view. Our book group will have a lot of great discussions from this novel.
Amanda Rogozinski
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ramona Ausubel has recently become one of my favorite fiction authors. Her newest characters don’t go to church or discuss God very often, and if you are looking for a cleaned up, PG version of reality, you won’t find it. Her characters do devastating things to each other: they have affairs, take revenge, and even abandon their children. But Ausubel’s vision of a good life is far from nihilistic. She affirms the worth of living, despite weakness and age. She values commitment and family. She uph ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I think the author was attempting to say something meaningful about class and wealth in American society with this story, but failed and wrote one of those awful stories about young white people who are super attractive but also damaged emotionally and have awful parents and then mess up their relationships as adults, etc. Also they are really really rich so of course they love Martha's Vineyard and sailing. Everyone in this book is a nightmare and its too bad that someone with a platform can't ...more
I really liked the way the Ms.Ausubel laid out the story. It was very well written to where you find yourself despising Edgar and Fern for being the children of rich parents. It wasn't so much Fern that I despised it was Edgar. He decided he hates money and all it stands for but he sure doesn't want to be without it. He hates to work is his problem, having any responsibility. I felt so sorry for their children, they had a 9-year-old daughter, Cricket and twin sons who are about 6 years old.
All i
Amy Lawson
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
This book grew on me. Initially Fern and Edgar drove me crazy and just seemed whiny and annoying. However , mid way through, I began to appreciate their struggle to figure out what life was all about in the absence of the great wealth they grew up with. Cricket, the young daughter who was forced into a mother role after Fern and Edgar both flee, was my favorite.

These characters, although shallow and selfish held my attention as I also appreciated what they were trying to figure out.

"Maybe it ha
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved it. It was a five-star book almost all the way through... but dragged just a tiniest bit near the end. I think the slowdown was deliberate, and it contributed to the tone of the book, so I still highly recommend. I am devouring everything from Ms. Ausubel-- what a voice, what incredible control of language! Selfishly, I wish her Pattersonesque output.
For some reason I thought Swamplandia! when I read about this book. It could be because Karen Russell wrote an excerpt, or something about the abandonment plot. I'm one of those who actually loved Swamplandia!, although I can't say why since I read it a while ago and wrote the review when I was in my smartass phase. But, I can logically suppose it's because of the abandoned kids. I felt for them.

So anyway, when I started Sons and Daughters, I was slightly disappointed, because there wasn't much
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fern and Edgar are married with three beautiful children. It is the summer of 1976 and they are spending it at their beach house on Martha’s Vineyard. Each day is an idyllic version of the life they were meant to live. Edgar has spent the last decade pouring his heart into the writing of a novel, his life’s work. Fern has happily spent each moment being the mom that her mom didn’t know how to be. These are days filled with sailboats, sand between toes and pots of lobster. The money from Fern’s w ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the main things I got out of this book is money isn't all that important, until you don't have any....
Fern and Edgar are married and the parent of three children... Edgar has a little slip, both parents decide they need time to themselves, and somehow their kids get left behind all by themselves??? Cricket, who I absolutely adored, was probably one of the most resourceful nine-year-old I have ever heard of... I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how my kids at that age would have coped if
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So I liked this book a lot, but it's not quite a true 5, more like a 4.5. But I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, because I found the whole story fascinating, especially when I realized that given the dates in the book, I and my brother are the same age as Cricket and her brothers. That led to a whole side novel in my head where I thought about what I would have done had my parents just suddenly disappeared and I was in charge of getting us fed and to school. The book wasn't really about Cric ...more
Karen Foster
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love me some 'rich white people problems' in the summer.... This book is as if 'fates and furies' and 'the affair' had a baby... Gorgeous prose, unlikeable yet complex and compelling characters, and endlessly quotable lines... I could have underlined something on every page. ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best dysfunctional family novels I've read because it's so much more than that. Creative, honest snippets of life, love and family. ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Never boring. The first book I've finished in a long time. I definitely recommend. It wasn't the pull of the story, insomuch as the author's prose. It was beautiful and artistic. ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
I hated the characters (who I don't think were written to be hated), and not in a "well, this is interesting" way. But I also wanted to tell others about plot points. ...more
Tammy Parks
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fern and Edgar's charmed life is about to fall apart. For ten years, money provided by Fern's extremely wealthy parents has allowed them to live a life of privilege. When her parents unexpectedly die, Fern quickly learns the money is gone. In order to maintain their lifestyle, Edgar will have to take over his father's steel company, a legacy he has been avoiding and running away from his entire adult life.
Fern and Edgar soon spiral into a crisis, caused by fear, self-pity, selfishness, and anger
Jenny Shank
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Published in the Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2016

Wealthy characters, from Gatsby to Mr. Darcy to Miss Havisham, were once a fiction staple. In contemporary novels, however, characters with more moderate incomes tend to rule: Think of the striving immigrant blogger in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” or Karen Russell’s down-on-its-luck alligator-wrestling family in “Swamplandia!” It’s not easy to make the travails of one-percenters sympathetic to the Costco-shopping rest of us, but if ther
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love, family and money all rule our lives in different ways, and this fictional novel is an excellent reflective narrative of a family who struggles with the abundance (and subsequent loss) of each of them; set in the summer of 1976, the wealthy Keating family realizes that their money has run out, and they respond in equally shocking ways. This book was such an excellent surprise. Not only was it filled with lovely language, an interesting plot and likable, flawed characters, but the premise of ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
loved it. this is a gorgeously crafted story about money and love and race and privilege and family and motherhood and self. it’s a stunning social commentary. the prose is beautiful. it slowed my reading down — i wanted to savor the language. it’s my most highlighted (e)book by far. the tone throughout the book is captivating. the characters are annoying, but intentionally and thoughtfully so. i totally get that this book is hit or miss, and i can almost understand why, but i really, really lov ...more
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Ramona Ausubel is the author of a new novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty (on sale 6/14/2016) as well as No One is Here Except All of Us, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and Finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Her collection of stories, A Guide to Being Born, was a New York Times’ Notable Book. He ...more

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55 likes · 27 comments
“The children always needed Fern to be a different kind of mother than she had been the week before. They exhausted her and she longed for a break and then she missed them acutely the moment they were out of sight—that was the truth of motherhood.” 3 likes
“Nothing was more terrifying than what families could do to each other.” 3 likes
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