Jean Copeland, an emotionally withdrawn wife and mother of two, has taken a secret lover—only to lose him in a moment of tragedy that leaves her reeling. Her husband, Gordon, is oblivious, distracted by the fear that he's losing his most prized asset: his memory. Daughter Priscilla (a pill since birth—don't get us started) is talking about clothes, or TV, or whatever, and hatching a plan to extend her maddening reach to all of America. Nine-year-old Otis is torn between his two greatest loves: crossword puzzles and his new girlfriend.
At the back of the house, grandfather Theodore is in the early throes of Parkinson's disease. (And he's fine with it—as long as they continue to let him walk the damn dog alone.) And Vivian, the family's ninety-eight-year-old matriarch, is a razor-sharp grande dame who suffers no fools...and still harbors secret dreams of her own.
With empathy, humor, and an unforgettable voice, Elizabeth Crane reveals what one family finds when everyone goes looking for meaning in all the wrong places.
About the Author
Elizabeth Crane is the author of the story collections When the Messenger Is Hot, All This Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's The Future Dictionary of America, The Best Underground Fiction, and elsewhere. This is her first novel.
Praise for We Only Know So Much…
“At last a novel from Elizabeth Crane! With her expert humorist’s eye for detail, she gives us a playful, passionate story of longing, heartbreak, and of the gargantuan human will. You won’t be able to stop reading.”
-Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution
“Not since The Royal Tenenbaums have I loved a family so much. The Copelands of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH are wonderfully eccentric, hilariously not self-aware and strangely adorable. They seemed so real, I felt like I was reading my own family story.”
-Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home
“This is the kind of book that inspires a person to see the beauty in the ordinary, to stop concentrating on others’ failings long enough to see their spark and maybe rediscover his or her own.”
-Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue
“Crane delivers a unique and dizzying tale that delves into the emotional life of a family teetering on the brink of everything. . . . The beauty in Crane’s novel is her sweep from acid commentary to heartfelt portrayal of real-life loves and losses.”
“Crane’s novel is filled with deliciously idiosyncratic characters, humorous and distinct narration, and a whole lot of personality. Each character’s emotional growth is just enough to satisfy, without being overbearing. . . . Crane’s summer novel has undeniable heart.”
“This is an irresistible and winsome read. A truly astute tale of love neglected and reclaimed, family resiliency, spiritual inquiries, and personal metamorphoses.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“A beautiful, warmhearted, ferociously honest debut that will pull you in with its chorus of true voices and catch you off guard with its playful, restless edginess.”
-Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River
“What I know for sure is this: Elizabeth Crane understands family. The simple pleasures, the daily outrage, the constant burying of secrets. Be careful what you say to your children -- they are listening. A funny and remarkable first novel.”
-Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie and Twins
“Its style is literary, with an edge: The point of view is wicked, the characters prickly, the language not quite quotable here. I can’t wait to read past the first chapter.”
-Los Angeles Times
“The Copelands would feel right at home in a Noah Baumbach movie. . . . Our narrator is an omniscient ‘We’ who reports the goings-on of the family with the breathless glee of an incurable gossip.”
“Like any good story writer, she had me in the first two paragraphs. . . . A treat to read. The characters are crisp and enjoyable; the narrator is smart and witty.”