Three very different people: Clio, Smith, and Tate. They’re living in New York, and on the surface, it might appear that they have their lives together, but each has ghosts in their past they have to work through to let go of the things that are holding them back. Will they be able to help one another, or will they be stymied by the difficulties they face?
There are a lot of books out there about late twenty/early thirtysomethings being single in the city (New York City, even), and trying to figure things out. They could probably constitute their own genre, there are so many of them. I’ve read quite a few of them, and I’ve seen what they have in common, which is why I so appreciated The Ramblers. While many other novels in this vein that I’ve read feature main characters who are a mess both professionally and personally, in Rowley’s novel, her characters have their lives together on the surface. Their jobs are varied, certainly, and some come from a place of privilege, but professionally they have some semblace of togetherness.
This resonated with me because I’ve never been able to identify with those novels that feature main characters who are in their early thirties and can’t get their lives together enough to get past an internship. I’m not saying that those people don’t exist, but I pour myself into my job, and I can’t imagine being so dispassionate. But with Rowley’s characters, who each feel strongly about their professions, but have personal and emotional issues—I could sympathize with that. Even when the characters were being difficult and unlikeable—which at times they are—I cared about what happened to them and I wanted the best for them.
The setting of The Ramblers is also transporting. Rowley ensures that New York City, with all its highs and lows, is a character in the novel and has just as much of a voice as her three main characters. It’s completely atmospheric and, as someone who loves New York, really drew me into the book. I was as invested in the characters as I was in how New York would shape and mold them. Settings can really make or break a novel, and in this case, it’s exceptionally well done.
I adored Rowley’s previous novel, Life After
You Yes, so I was really glad to have the chance to read this one, and I did so in one sitting. She gets the voices of each character perfect, and readers will become emotionally invested in their stories, hopeful that they’ll leave them in a better place than where they started. If you’re looking for a novel to really dive into, add this one to your list.
Other books by Aidan Donnelly Rowley: