Review: Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty is a very character-driven book. I heard it described as a dysfunctional family novel, which is why I wanted to read it, and while the characters are certainly dysfunctional, I don’t know if this book qualifies for that “genre.” To me dysfunctional family stories usually have secrets and lies but also confrontation and drama. There are secrets in this book, but almost no action. I was very disappointed.

Fern and Edgar are happily married in 1976. They’re living an extravigant life paid for with her parent’s money. Edgar has chosen not to take over his father’s steel business because he abhors money – kind of ironic considering how they’re living. He’s spent the last 10 years working on a novel, which is finally about to be published. Fern has been busy mothering their three children, Cricket (age 9) and the twins, James and Will (age 6). Then suddenly the money is gone. Fern’s parents estate is finally processed after their deaths some months earlier. Fern and Edgar both respond in the worst way and run away from their lives…separately.

About 90% of this book was backstory, and while some aspects were interesting, ultimately, I was left wondering when something was going to happen. Spoiler: Nothing much ever really does. I enjoyed the portions that focused on the children the most. Left home alone, Cricket is rather resourceful. I felt for the three of them. They were completely innocent in this situation. Fern and Edgar on the other hand were annoying and spoiled. This book is a snapshot of the lives of the American elite, but that wasn’t enough to hold my attention.

Rating: 2 Stars

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
Ramona Ausubel
Riverhead Books
June 14, 2016
Audio CD

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 parents, which, as the sole source of Fern and Edgar's income, had allowed them to live this beautiful, comfortable life despite their professed anti-money ideals. Quickly, the once-charmed family unravels. In distress and confusion, Fern and Edgar are each tempted away on separate adventures: she on a road trip with a stranger, he on an ill-advised sailing voyage with another woman. The three children are left for days with no guardian whatsoever, in an improvised Neverland helmed by the tender, witty, and resourceful Cricket, age nine.

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