Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
by Ramona Ausubel

Overview -

"A timely, sophisticated tale that] explores what happens when a charmed life loses its luster." - O Magazine

From the award-winning author of the forthcoming Awayland , an imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and '70s that suddenly loses its fortune--and its bearings.  Read more...

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More About Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel

"A timely, sophisticated tale that] explores what happens when a charmed life loses its luster." -O Magazine

From the award-winning author of the forthcoming Awayland, an imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and '70s that suddenly loses its fortune--and its bearings.

An NPR Best Book of 2016
One of Best Books of Summer -O Magazine
One of The 12 Summer Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About -Harper's Bazaar
One of 20 Books Perfect for Your Summer Vacay -Refinery29
One of 22 Summer Books You Won't Want to Miss -Huffington Post
One of 19 Summer Books that Everyone Will be Talking About -
One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2016 -The Millions
One of 30 Best New Books for Summer 2016 -Good Housekeeping
One of 30 Books You Should Read this Summer -Chicago Tribune

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.

Brimming with humanity and wisdom, humor and bite, and imbued with both the whimsical and the profound, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty is a story of American wealth, class, family, and mobility, approached by award-winner Ramona Ausubel with a breadth of imagination and understanding that is fresh, surprising, and exciting.

  • ISBN-13: 9781594634888
  • ISBN-10: 1594634882
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: June 2016
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Literary

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-03-14
  • Reviewer: Staff

The 1970s and ’60s are reexamined in Ausubel’s second novel, which takes place largely in the American bicentennial year of 1976. Coming from moneyed backgrounds, married couple Edgar and Fern Keating react in a surprising fashion to their impending insolvency. Edgar, a soon-to-be-published novelist, goes sailing off to Bermuda with a woman he just slept with named Glory Jefferson. And Fern embarks on a cross-country road trip from Cambridge to Palm Springs with Mac, a giant bank guard she just met. Due to a mix-up, the Keatings’ three resilient children, nine-year-old Cricket and the 6-year-old twins, James and Will, are left home alone. Interspersed with this narrative are numerous flashbacks to the late ’60s, as we see Edgar and Fern meeting, courting, marrying, and having children as the world seemingly goes to hell around them. Ausubel (No One Is Here Except All of Us) offers an incisive look at these schismatic years in American history and how they affect this couple and their friends and family members, including Fern’s twin brother, Ben, who is drafted into the army along with Edgar. There is true wit in the author’s depiction of these tumultuous decades, and with characters this memorable, the pages almost turn themselves. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (June)

BookPage Reviews

When the trust fund runs dry

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” In Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, PEN Center USA Fiction Award winner Ramona Ausubel explores that theme quite handily.

This ideal summer novel grapples with a Tolstoyan knapsack overflowing with Serious Themes: Love. Betrayal. Death. Wealth. Privilege. War. Coming of Age. And yet, Ausubel has nimbly managed to capture these in miniature, a mini solar system that orbits around the dollar, with a fluctuating gravitational pull that shapes and distorts all the objects in its sphere.

Make no mistake: Edgar and Fern Keating, the book’s protagonists, are easy to dislike. Not only are they suffused with the treacly bouquet of kids whose safety net allowed them to try on hardship as a fashion statement, but they make some staggeringly irresponsible choices. Long story short, the trust-fund babies’ trust fund runs out, and they are thrown into an existential crisis, to which they respond in unpredictable ways.

As the novel bounces back and forth in time (from 1966 to 1976), Ausubel peels away the layers of Edgar’s and Fern’s personae, offering nonjudgmental insight into the events that shaped them and their chosen trajectories. By the end of it all, anyone not rooting for the couple (and their irrepressible daughter, Cricket) to pull off an overtime win needs to look more within themselves than toward the author, who has stitched together an affecting and quietly powerful character study of people who are different than you and me.


This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews