SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD
NOMINATED FOR THE FOLIO PRIZE
NAMED A NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
A stunning, heartbreaking debut – ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ is both the intimate story of a family and an epic of the American Century.
The product of a stormy upbringing in an Irish Catholic enclave of New York City, Eileen craves stability. Coming of age in the early Sixties, she meets and marries a young scientist named Edmund Leary.
But while Eileen wants more for her family, Ed won’t give up teaching for a better-paid job. Inadvertently Eileen starts to climb her own career ladder in nursing. She pushes Ed into finding a new home, but it becomes clear that his resistance is part of a deeply troubling psychological shift.
In this masterful debut, Matthew Thomas paints a sprawling, profoundly sympathetic portrait of a family coping with slow-burning tragedy. ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ is a grand testament to our deepest hopes and most human frailties.
Reviews of We Are Not Ourselves
- ‘Like John Updike in the Rabbit series Thomas concentrates on the lives of ordinary Americans … Thomas’s treatment of Ed Leary’s Alzheimer’s is extraordinary … The novel’s account of this illness and its terrible progress through a life is unsparing, but never cold or removed … Intensely moving … Thomas has quarried deep to discover emotional truth and a form and language in which to express it. ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ took 10 years to write, and justifies every one of them.’ Helen Dunmore, Guardian
- ‘Matthew Thomas’s ambitious first novel presents the life of one woman from cradle to late middle-age, and the changing backdrop of New York. Terrific’ The Times
- ‘An honest, intimate family story with the power to rock you to your core … Wrenchingly credible … Wonderfully wrought … A rich, sprawling book … One of the frankest novels ever written about love between a caregiver and a person with a degenerative disease … Thomas spares nothing and still makes it clear how deeply in love these soul mates are … [It] will reduce anyone who ever had a parent to helpless tears.’ New York Times
- ‘Unflinching and heartbreaking … The pain leaps from the page but so too does the love … epic in scale, subject and compassion … If Matthew Thomas writes nothing else, ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ will stand as a magnificent achievement.’ 5* review, Sunday Express
- ‘The greatest Alzheimer’s novel yet … Visionary and challenging … exceeds the usual boundaries of fiction on the subject … At once expansive and tangibly detailed … Resonant, finely observed … The truest and most harrowing account of a descent into dementia that I have ever read … Marvellous.’ New Yorker
- ‘A powerfully moving book.’ Chad Harbach
- ‘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