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Last Couple Standing

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  78 reviews
A couple determined not to end up like their divorced friends try a radical experiment—and get in way over their heads—in this hilarious, heartfelt novel from the author of We’re All Damaged.

The Core Four have been friends since college: four men, four women, four couples. They got married around the same time, had kids around the same time, and now, fifteen years later,
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Ballantine
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  99 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tucker by: Random House Book Club

Many thanks to Ballantine Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

And now, an interview with the author!

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid—like third and fourth grade. I used to write little stories in pencil, complete with my own terrible illustrations, and read them aloud to my parents. Nothing in particular inspired me to do it other than the fact that it’s what I wanted to do. Writing has always been wired into my personality. Still is.
Still not sure if this is a three-star or four-star book. The premise threw me off and was hard to get beyond. I'll be back with a full review.

Full review:
Three and a half stars, rounded down.

The writing in this book is fantastic, and for that reason alone it deserves three stars. It's the story that threw me for a loop because honestly, it's a subject that I really don't care for. I know there are a lot of people who have "relaxed" marriages or relaxed rules about marriage but that's just not
Genevieve Trono
Sep 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
I had high hopes for the Last Couple Standing but it ended up just being an okay read for me. It is definitely a rom-com but the premise just fell flat for me. There was some laugh out loud moments but I felt that it just was a little too "out there" for me when main characters felt so flat.

I did enjoy the commentary on marriage and kids but some it is was just too cringe-worthy and a little juvenile. The characters were very one dimensional which made it hard to really connect with the
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of Last Couple Standing.

Mitch and Jessica have been together since college, the last couple out of their Core Four of friends to remain married.

As a way to prevent their marriage from going stagnant, they embark on a not so original, radical experiment to 'sow' their oats without consequences.

Yeah, like that ever works in books and real life.

I did enjoy the writing, there was some jokes and humor, and I found myself drawn into Mitch and Jessica's life.

Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
While the concept is a bit intriguing, I guess I don't buy into the core concept of the book ('all our friends are getting a divorce, so now we're going to try an open marriage to save ours?'). Additionally, this read a little too much 'white hetero-normative problems' to be much more than a surface level book. I would've loved just a bit of diversity. As other reviewers have mentioned, the characters are all somewhat one-dimensional and I don't particularly understand their motivations for ...more
Roma Sharma
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. The climax was almost like a movie plot where all characters come together to create a collision.. It was something that I would classify as a beach read. The subject had potential for a deeper dive in to the psychology of marriage but it’s a missed opportunity. Overall easy to read and keeps you engaged.
Jessica Jeffers
Dec 10, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: edelweiss, fiction
This was just....very much not for me. I loved Matthew Norman's first two books, but I couldn't get more than a third of the way through this one because it left a sour taste in my mouth.
Anissa Austin
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I struggled with a rating for this book. Although it kept my interest, some parts were not lacking substance to me.
I give this book 3.75 stars.

The Last Couple standing is about Jessica and Mitch who decide to loosen their marriage in order to remain alive and save their marriage. They are the only couple of their closest friends who are not divorced.

Part One: The Divorces was very confusing to me. This is the part
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an ARC. This was a fun read. Pretty hilarious, and definitely a bit of a farce toward the end. I didn’t necessarily love the topic. The wife in the lone surviving married couple among a group of friends suggest an open marriage might help keep them married. But the book as well as the main characters were entertaining. Of course, as I’m sure the author (a male) intended, I was team Mitch (husband) more than Jessica (wife.) ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I really struggled to finish this. The plot felt contrived and shallow. The characters were for the most part, one dimensional and adolescent. The themes of infidelity, divorce, open marriage were all portrayed in an unconvincing manner so that the premise fell flat. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Mitch and Jessica have been married for 15 years, have two kids, and they're happy. Unlike all their friends who are divorced and diving into the shark-infested waters of dating apps, they enjoy monthly date nights and still find each other attractive. They're in it for the long haul. They're safe...right? When Jessica gently suggests they each explore sleeping with other people, Mitch goes along with it until she actually comes home having done it. So is he supposed to rush out and find someone ...more
Olga Gamer
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
The Core Four have been friends since college: four men, four women, four couples, four marriages, three sets of children, and now three divorces. "Last Couple Standing" is about one couple's exploration into an open marriage to see if they can avoid the same fate that befell their friends. Here, Mitch and Jessica relax a few rules to see if that will help them guarantee a chance at success.

Part of the reason why I gave the book three stars is because of all the subplots in the novel. I thought
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a great book to wrap up with during this chilly fall/winter weather! Be warned: it’s like watching a slow inevitable train wreck. You want the train to stop, but you know it won’t, at least not in time, and you simply can’t look away.
The author, Matthew Norman, writes with a wry sense of humor, which I absolutely love. Even though at times he must write of pain and humiliation, he manages to do it respectfully, and then give his battered character an opportunity to smile at the little
Erin Kathleen (CTBookGirl)
This almost seems like a book I would NOT read because I am not "open" to an open marriage but I like Matthew Norman's writing and sense of humor and I am glad I gave this a chance.

When the Core Four suddenly all divorce, except one couple, Mitch and Jessica, they both wonder if they are next. Scared of the path their marriage is heading they decide to take bold steps to keep their marriage intact.
While they both agree on the pact, only one of them goes through with it and it (of course) has
Carol Ann
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Yep- finished in one day. Fun read that I obviously could not put down. Great way to start the new year. Recommended!
Taylor Noel
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fun, frothy novel about a couple that tries to save their marriage by sleeping with other people. Reminded me a lot of the movie Crazy Stupid Love!
Kati Berman
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Last Couple Standing
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I usually read historical fiction, WWII novels, etc., so this novel was definitely a change from my usual genre and a welcome, refreshing, laugh aloud story. Although, in a literary sense, it is nothing special, it was entertaining, even with the very predictable ending. Overall 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.
Thanks NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the advanced copy.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was absolutely not for me. The premise was promising enough, one couple figures out a way to keep their marriage alive as their friends are divorcing all around them. What is turned out to be was the movie Hall Pass in novel format. As I was reading, I kept thinking “this has to have been written by a man!” And it was. The characters are one-dimensional, and their decisions do not seem to make any sense. There is one scene at the end of the book that was humorous and tied the plot ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I read Matthew Norman's We're All Damaged, I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite writers, Jonathan Tropper, specifically The Book of Joe (my favorite Tropper) -- New York guy goes back to his hometown for a family emergency and has to deal with his past, to great comic effect. When I came onto Goodreads to learn more about Norman, I saw Tropper named right at the start of the description of Norman's debut novel Domestic Violets.

So forgive me if I come at his forthcoming third
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
First, thanks to NetGalley for the ARC digital copy of this book in exchange for my review

If you're reading this review, you likely know the basic premise of this book. Mitch and Jessica a couple around 40 years old, and are part of a friends group comprised of 3 other couples and dating back to college. Over the past couple of years, they've watched the other 3 marriages implode, causing them to take a closer look at their own union. After a lot of years and 2 kids, their relationship has
Caroline Hedges
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought the premise of this book sounded very enticing. I have a number of divorced friends and have wondered what it is about my marriage that hangs in there when everyone starts their marriage from a place of love. The idea of spicing things up to keep a marriage fresh is something me and my married friends have talked about. So I was interested to see where Norman would take this - a cautionary tale of how things can go South quickly or an endearing love story of how marriage bonds can be ...more
Laura Hill
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on March 17th, 2020.

Mitch and Jessica are the last couple standing. When the other three couples in their set all divorce within a couple of years, suddenly their own previously happy marriage seems almost up for grabs. With infidelity at the root of most of their friends' problems, they decide to experiment with a temporarily open marriage to see if
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This a delicious and delightful book, written with a light yet vibrant style, about a serious subject.

The Core Four, as they call each other, are four couples who met in college at Johns Hopkins. Originally the core eight, four woman friends and four men friends, when they all eventually meet, as they say, worlds collide, they pair up and eventually marry, and at the time of the story, all live in Maryland.

That’s the backstory. Moving forward about 20 years, they’re all still living in
Susie Williams
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
(thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy of this book)

When I first started this book, I was a little bit disappointed. It's the THIRD book I've read featuring couples that agree to sleep with other people in the last two months (the others were The Arrangement and Beside Herself). This seemed crazy to me and a sure sign that this plot is way overdone. But? I ended up really loving Matthew Norman's writing and finding myself really enjoying the characters and the story. Though the
D. Hardy
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While I personally have never been a fan of open marriages, Matthew Norman’s latest novel, Last Couple Standing, gives a humorous and insightful peek into the pleasures and perils of what it sometimes takes to keep a marriage alive in today’s world of instant gratification, online affairs, and easy-access internet porn.

As the rest of their close friends from college have all recently suffered divorces of varying degrees, Mitch, a high school English teacher, and Jessica, a therapist, make a bold
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
While ultimately divorce is no laughing matter, this is one funny book. The core four, a group of 4 couples that met in college and married shortly after graduating, have wound their lives around one another so much so they continue to live near each other and celebrate all holidays together and basic moments in life. Twenty years later, three of the four couples divorce in quick succession. What ensues is the sad and absurd antics of the divorced as followed by the remaining married couple, ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book a lot, just felt like it was a little underdeveloped in a few areas. While the book alternates between the perspectives of Jessica and Mitch, it's much easier to get a read on Mitch and have empathy for his character. I wasn't always clear what Jessica's motivations were. Kind of seemed a bit like she invented the challenge merely to justify cheating, which felt a little shitty to me.

There were some humorous bits in this book (I too make the gravely stupid choice to watch
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and found it to be an entertaining read. It was authentic and engaging, and perhaps for some, a little unconventional. This character-driven drama is about We have four flawed couples who all met each other in college, got married, moved to the suburbs, and life happened. Until for some of them, divorce happened. Then what happens to the lone couple that stays together?
This book is about real life, life’s challenges, and relationships. Sometimes people don’t make the
Olivia L
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unlike the other popular novels that were inspired by Ross' mantra, "We were on a break!", I found someone to root for in Mitch Butler. In the 'Last Coupling Standing', Mitch and Jessica decided that with all of the divorces swirling around them, their marriage needed a break (spouse-sanctioned infidelity) in order for it to naturally evolve. Will it save their marriage or ruin it?

The writing was a perfect balance of wit and humor, engaging the reader and offering up the chance for a little bit
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book was compelling, and also incredibly depressing. It's a book about the human condition, what it means to have and live through an adult relationship and it had many morose and dark moments. But that's life, and for that I actually really enjoyed it. The dynamics in the book are very real and relatable and the ending makes sense in the context, but I think that's the only part that felt forced. It was as if the author forgot the entirety of the book he had been writing up until then, or ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
Matthew Norman is an advertising copywriter. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Baltimore. His first novel, Domestic Violets, was nominated in the Best Humor Category at the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards.