Nearly two decades have passed since Eloise Hempel gave up her dream job teaching at Harvard University to return to her hometown of Cincinnati to care for her orphaned nieces and nephew.

Now, with Theo, Josh, and Claire grown, she dreams of selling the family house, perhaps even returning to the life she left behind. But when her mother decides not to let Eloise sell the house—and instead promises it to the family member “who needs it most”—unforeseen consequences and revelations threaten to unravel their makeshift family. 





“With a playwright’s precise, sometimes excoriating dialogue and an insightful novelist’s judicious use of interior monologue, Stewart crafts a tearful yet unsentimental family coming-of-age story.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Touching drama . . . Faced with urgent choices, Eloise and the grown kids react with varying degrees of wisdom and pigheadedness, but as Stewart tenderly demonstrates, they remain—for better or worse—a family.” 

“Stewart’s novel reminds us how family ties trump all else.” 
—Parenting Magazine

“A sprawling novel with some of the off-kilter charm of Anne Tyler’s work, The History of Us glows with affection for its wounded, familiar characters.”
—Boston Globe

“A poignant exploration of the meaning of family . . . the life they’ve lived was as much a gift as the life they lost.” 

“Charming . . . Stewart weaves a smart, redemptive tale of maturation.” 
—Star Tribune

“Stewart is a wonderful observer of family relationships, and she adroitly weaves the stories of Eloise and the children she’s raised—their work, their loves, their disappointments and dreams—while focusing on what ties families together, and what ultimately keeps those ties from breaking.” 

“Stewart portrays the yearning and conflict of very recognizable people. . . . [She] makes the reader care about these good people — and applaud as each finally dares to break out of familial inertia, to act instead of
yearn. . . . Like her mentors Eliot and Austen, Stewart explores the delicate dilemmas of family life: balancing loyalty and self-interest, giving and receiving joy and sorrow, achieving togetherness and separateness.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books

“Stewart’s novel is an intimate exploration of a family in crisis and the different ways in which people cope with grief.” 
—Publishers Weekly

The History of Us stays the course and shows how a family negotiates through a particular crisis. Leah Stewart seems to love her characters even when they are not especially lovable, and gives them space and time enough to grow and change.”