Thank you to Flatiron Books and Netgalley for an early review copy of The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas, which will publish July 17, 2018. All thoughts are my own.
From the publisher:
Harry Tabor is about to be named Man of the Decade, a distinction that feels like the culmination of a life well lived. Gathering together in Palm Springs for the celebration are his wife, Roma, a distinguished child psychologist, and their children: Phoebe, a high-powered attorney; Camille, a brilliant social anthropologist; and Simon, a big-firm lawyer, who brings his glamorous wife and two young daughters.
But immediately, cracks begin to appear in the smooth facade: Simon hasn’t been sleeping through the night, Camille can’t decide what to do with her life, and Phoebe is a little too cagey about her new boyfriend. Roma knows her children are hiding things. What she doesn’t know, what none of them know, is that Harry is suddenly haunted by the long-buried secret that drove him, decades ago, to relocate his young family to the California desert. As the ceremony nears, the family members are forced to confront the falsehoods upon which their lives are built.
Set over the course of a single weekend, and deftly alternating between the five Tabors, this provocative, gorgeously rendered novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves and our family and the price we pay for second chances.
The Family Tabor is thick with words and full of sentences so wonderfully crafted, I wanted to revisit them out of sheer admiration. The book is dazzling in its descriptions but not so much its plot and characters. I fell in love with the writing from the start and tried my best to push through the story in order to enjoy Wolas’s prose, but found myself bored to say the least. I wasn’t interested in the characters, and their so-called “secrets” were just watered down first-world problems, which grew to be incredibly aggravating for me. If I felt connected to the character, I would’ve felt compassion towards their struggles, no matter how trite, but I was so disinterested in the Tabors that I couldn’t convince myself to care.
The Family Tabor is a slow-burn story in the truest sense of the term, and I just didn’t jive with it (this coming from someone who loved Elif Batuman’s The Idiot). Though I haven’t read Wolas’s debut, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, I’ve heard so many fantastic things about it, which is why I was so disappointed when I had to set this one down. I love a good multi-generational family saga, and that’s what I expected with The Family Tabor, but it fell flat for me. Unfortunately the beautiful writing did not make up for the severe lack of plot or the dull characters.
I made it about thirty-percent through before I had to set down The Family Tabor. If you’re a sucker for dazzling writing, it won’t disappoint, but if you’re a stickler for plot or characters, skip this one.