Same As It Ever Was: A Novel (Large Print / Paperback)

Same As It Ever Was: A Novel By Claire Lombardo Cover Image
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July 2024 Indie Next List

“Unsurprisingly, this was absolutely brilliant. Lombardo writes human emotion and flaws incredibly. I can’t stop thinking about this book. It was smart, beautiful, and the most accurate depiction of a marriage I have ever read.”
— Greer Williams, Athena Books, Old Greenwich, CT


The New York Times bestselling author of THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD (“wonderfully immersive…deliciously absorbing”—NPR) returns with another brilliantly observed family drama in which the enduring, hard-won affection of a long marriage faces imminent derailment from events both past and present.

At fifty-seven, Julia Ames is living an improbably lovely life. Despite her inclination toward self-sabotage and prickly alienation, she has found herself with a husband she loves, two happy children, and a quiet, contented existence in the suburbs. When she bumps into an old friend that she hasn’t spoken to in years—a friend who almost ended her marriage decades prior—Julia finds herself reexamining her supposedly happy life. Compounded with a bombshell announcement from her son and her daughter’s impending departure for college, this chance meeting threatens to send Julia spinning out of control.

Daunted by a looming empty nest, Julia becomes consumed with her checkered past—and with the chaos of her present. She grapples with a complicated new daughter-in-law, the reappearance of her own estranged mother, and the forbidden allure of rekindling a relationship that was once both her lifeline and her downfall. The novel follows Julia over the course of a few tumultuous months as well as the fifty-plus years that preceded them, from her chaotic childhood in Chicago to her fraught early days of marriage and motherhood. SAME AS IT EVER WAS ultimately examines the complete and complicated trajectory of one woman’s life and asks what it takes to form—and keep—a family.

About the Author

CLAIRE LOMBARDO is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had. She lives in Iowa City, where she has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and works part-time as a bookseller at Prairie Lights Books.

Praise For…


"You need to read this....Claire Lombardo is the new Anne Tyler, with teeth."
–Ericka Waller, author of Dog Days

“Infidelity, dysfunction, secrets – this family novel delivers. . . Poignant, punctilious. . . [Lombardo] refashions domestic drama into something rich and strange, with echoes of Lorrie Moore’s sardonic humor and Jonathan Franzen’s dissection of class. . . In less skillful hands, Same as It Ever Was would lose control over its transitions and veer toward soap opera; yet like Franzen’s Marion Hildebrandt, or Faye, the narrator of Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy, Lombardo gives us a woman whose inner life is knotted and revelatory. . . Same as It Ever Was is a brave, nuanced book, lulling us with its rhythms but taking risks when we glance away.”
–Hamilton Cain, The New York Times

“Lombardo’s witty, sympathetic take on motherhood exudes the sharp scent of fermented apple juice and a full diaper… Lombardo has such a fine eye for the weft and warp of a family’s fabric. She understands the chemistry of that special epoxy of irritation and affection that keeps a marriage glued together. One finishes Same As It Ever Was with the satisfaction of knowing this complicated woman well — and the poignant disappointment of having to say goodbye.”
Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“This is one of those beautifully written, keenly observed novels where not that much happens — other than, you know, life itself — but also so much happens. . . Claire Lombardo has written a whole cast of characters so detailed, so specifically themselves, that you almost feel you could reach out and touch them.”
Samantha Balaban, NPR

“A capacious, tender family drama and ode to marriage. . . Lombardo is a writer who lavishes attention to her characters. . . Same As It Ever Was is a fine-grained portrait of a woman determined to learn how to be a mother, wife, daughter – and person. It builds to a moving climax, encompassing along the way unexpected weddings, funerals, reconciliations, and losses. Like life itself.”
–Christian Science Monitor

“Lombardo continues her astute and entertaining observations about messy family dynamics and the imprint they leave on us. . . with wit and a keen eye for the complications of modern life.”
–The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“An engrossing story of maternal complexity and a reminder of the myriad ways the past can quietly inform the present.”


“Pitch-perfect. . . Lombardo is compulsively readable and consistently funny, and it’s impossible to look away as Julia continues to self-sabotage. This domestic drama hits all the right notes.”
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

"Lombardo loves her characters, taking time to peel back each of their layers through the time-lapse structure of the novel and her rich descriptions. . . A sure bet for fans of Richard Russo and Jane Smiley.”

“Sparkling. . . Readers will be torn between their instinct to race to the finish and their desire to savor every page.”
Publisher's Weekly Summer Reads

“Witty and insightful...a powerful exploration of marriage, motherhood, and self.”
–Bonnie Garmus, bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593915301
ISBN-10: 0593915305
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 768
Language: English