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The Ramblers
Cover of The Ramblers
The Ramblers
A Novel

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley's sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York's wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley's sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York's wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

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About the Author-
  • Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University. She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hours Literary Salons. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 16, 2015
    A trio of New Yorkers leading charmed lives must overcome everyday complications in order to move forward in Rowley’s sophomore outing (after Life After Yes). Ornithologist Clio Marsh has her dream job at the Museum of Natural History and the love of the winning, much-older hotel magnate Henry Kildare, who’s ready to commit. But Clio’s having reservations about the relationship: she’s never been up front with Henry about her mother’s bipolar disorder and suicide, and she’s constantly worried that her mother’s demons may eventually catch her as well. Meanwhile, Clio’s best friend and longtime roommate Smith Anderson is trying to keep it together while Smith’s younger sister’s impending marriage provides constant reminders of Smith’s own broken engagement. A chance reconnection with an old college acquaintance of Smith, Tate Pennington, is a temporary respite from Smith’s heartbreak, but Tate, a newly single Internet mogul who’s just sold his company to Twitter, feels unmoored with no job, too much money, and the sudden dissolution of his marriage. Propelled by the kinds of rote sitcom-style misunderstandings that seem like they could be more easily resolved, this tale is light on plot, but Rowley’s Manhattan provides a vivid and charming setting for her nuanced (if not always sympathetic) characters to evolve.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2015
    A week of soul-searching and lovemaking among Yale alumni in New York. "Tate, meet my mother and father, Bitsy and Thatcher. Mom and Dad, this is Tate Pennington." Still recovering from a recently broken engagement, Smith Anderson has brought her new boyfriend home for Thanksgiving at her parents' estate in the Hamptons, a spread that includes a helipad, twin tennis courts, and a bakery. With characters whose names are straight out of The Official Preppy Handbook; a cast that includes a life coach, a personal organizer, a bird-watching guide, and a guy who made millions on an app called PhotoPoet; two couples in the precarious process of finding love; and a big family wedding involving all of them on deck, Rowley's debut novel seems set to be a comedy of manners among the fancier young New Yorkers. But it's quite serious, actually. The narrative is loaded with literary and ornithological information, includes epigraphs from folks like Darwin, Kierkegaard, and Robert Lowell, and features characters who worship E.B. White and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Clio Marsh's mother committed suicide less than a year earlier after a long struggle with bipolar disease, a truth she's having trouble confronting and sharing with her boyfriend. Clearly, the novel wants to be a lot more than a lighthearted love story. Yet it's most successful in its less serious or pedantic moments. Particularly clever are the artifacts from the characters' lives: a New York magazine review of Clio's bird-watching walks in Central Park, a list of Smith's life-coaching goals, an interview with Tate about his app from the Yale Alumni Review, a few college application essays, and a letter found at the bottom of a box of keepsakes. Enjoyable if at times overly earnest.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 2016

    Clio Marsh is a beautiful, brilliant bird professor, curator, and guide to all things avian on tours of the Ramble, a natural sanctuary in Manhattan's Central Park. She's in love with the much older Henry Kildare, a successful Irishman who reveals a big surprise hard on the heels of Clio's return from overseas, throwing her for an emotional loop. Smith Anderson, Clio's best friend since their Yale days and a professional organizer from a one-percent family, is suffering her own inner freefall, having been dumped by the love of her life while now preparing for the opulent wedding of her younger sister. Tate, another Yale friend, newly filthy rich from the sale of his high-tech company, is in the middle of a divorce that threatens half his assets when he bumps into Smith, and sparks flash, flicker, and flash again. VERDICT Rowley (Life After Yes) once again captures the bright dialog, urban and romantic insecurities, and stylish lifestyle of a group of appealing upper-echelon mid-30s Manhattanites who defy the jaded stereotypes and will have readers rooting for them as they stumble their way to happiness. Irresistible.--Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Will Schwalbe, author of the New York Times Bestseller THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB. "THE RAMBLERS is an engrossing, meticulously observed novel of New York. Aidan Donnelley Rowley explores the lives of characters navigating the challenges of friendship, jealousy, love and the need to confront their past before they can create a future."
  • Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Still Writing "In this spirited, compulsively-readable, sophisticated tale of entangled urban lives, Aidan Donnelley Rowley has written a love letter to New York, full of sparkling innocence and its ensuing heartache. THE RAMBLERS is a pure delight."
  • Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing Witty and engaging, The Ramblers takes us deep into the cloistered world of three New Yorkers, where privilege does not necessarily lead to happiness. Aidan Donnelley Rowley is an expert at revealing her characters with depth and care."
  • Allison Pataki, New York Times Bestselling author of The Accidental Empress "Chock full of the crackling wit, irreverent humor and raw honesty [...] A whirlwind foray into the New York City that Aidan Donnelley Rowley knows and loves — and writes— so well."
  • Lee Woodruff, New York Times bestselling author of Those We Love Most "Aidan Donnelley Rowley's finely honed prose creates a New York story that had me enchanted from the first flirtation. It's not often that a book embeds you so deeply with the characters that you feel as if you are in the story."
  • Sophie McManus, author of The Unfortunates "The Ramblers weaves a bewitching, wise tale of how love's path may take unexpected twists and turns. [...] a deeply moving and elegant book about how we find ourselves and each other. It pulled me in with its first pages, and wouldn't let go until the last."
  • Library Journal (starred review) "Rowley once again captures the bright dialog, urban and romantic insecurities, and stylish lifestyle of a group of appealing upper-echelon mid-30s Manhattanites who defy the jaded stereotypes and will have readers rooting for them as they stumble their way to happiness. Irresistible."
  • Publishers Weekly "vivid and charming..."
  • Hello Real Life "...We're calling it now, this one is going to be a best-seller and is a must-have for novel-lovers."
  • Cosmopolitan "Three New Yorkers-a bird watcher, a type-A fixer, and an artist-try to navigate the zigzags of living and loving in the city during one crucial week."
  • Kirkus Reviews "A week of soul-searching and lovemaking among Yale alumni in New York... Enjoyable."
  • Woman's World "Clio, Smith and Tate would feel completely lost in the world, if not for their enduring friendship. Rambling through New York City one fateful week, the trip learns from each other how to let go of past heartaches and open themselves to the uncertainty and promise that the future holds."
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