Spacing Lee B. Montgomery
The Things Between Us The Things Between Us

The Montgomery’s of Framingham, Massachusetts are among the last of a dying breed—New England WASPS who effortlessly combine repression, flamboyant eccentricity and alcoholism. Fragmented by drink and dysfunction, the family had avoided assembling under one roof for more than a decade. But when Big Dad, the patriarch, was diagnosed with stomach cancer, the siblings returned to their childhood home, Four Corner Farm, to help their parents navigate specialists, treatment options, pain management, and, most difficult of all, their own anguish. The Things Between Us is Lee Montgomery’s alternately wrenching and riotous story of the final family reunion.

Text   Powell’s Exclusive Author Interview with Lee

Audio   PBS interview, The Story with Dick Gordon

Audio   Interview with Deborah Harper at Psychjourney Audio Book Club

"The moment you begin reading THE THINGS BETWEEN US, Lee Montgomery's riveting memoir, you know that you are in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Montgomery's prose is stark and spare, yet the images she builds and the scenes that she recreates are overpowering. Montgomery stitches together parallel narratives, deftly guiding the reader from past to present, all the while compelling the reader forward, page after page, recreating scenes, vivid and riveting like cinema, crafting real-life characters with evocative sensitivity. The story can be painful, but the literary accomplishment is a triumph and a joy."
—Lee Gutkind

"This is not just another memoir of alcoholism and family dysfunction--this is the smartest, funniest, warmest, and most wicked of alcoholism and family dysfunction memoirs to come along in many years. Lee Montgomery paints flawed and aching people with a touching and lovely palette."
—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

"[Lee Montgomery] perfectly captures a middle-aged right of passage: returning home to help a parent die. Everyone with a terminally ill parent should read this spare account, which is damn near perfect.”
—Starred Review, Kirkus

“A sad/funny gin-coherent memoir of family life. … What [Lee Montgomery] does, uncannily well, is to catch how normal an alcoholic family feels when you’re in the midst of it: the outburst of irrational anger, the denial, the floating sensation of anxiety are made palpable here, but so is the exuberance and the odd closeness that flourishes in extremity. … An engrossing book.”
—Elaina Richardson, O: The Oprah Magazine

"An immensely heartfelt book, chronicling the slow decline and death of a beloved parent. What makes this memoir moving and memorable is that the love is firmly rooted in honesty, in a generous but still clear-sighted assessment of one family's struggles, alongside the closeness." 
—Aimee Bender, author of Willful Creatures

“In her bittersweet memoir of her father’s death from metastatic stomach cancer,
Montgomery … skillfully shifts her narrative between the harrowing dailiness of her father’s yearlong illness, her mother’s escalating drunkenness, her own impending sense of loss and a damaging familial past she recalls with deeply mixed emotions. Montgomery’s lyric and nuanced rendering of her love for her miscreant tribe has comic as well as tragic moments, but she steers clear of both sentimentality and New England stoicism, creating a tender portrait of modern death and real American families.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Tin House executive editor Lee Montgomery breathes new life into the dysfunctional family memoir with clean, vivid writing laced with a bitter bite. The result is "Ordinary People" meets "One True Thing."

“[A] wrenching, unsentimental memoir: … Montgomery's portrait of modern death is harrowing, but it's uplifting, too.” Critic’s Choice (four stars)
—Sue Corbett, People

“Laughing and crying, bickering and reminiscing, the author and her siblings rallied round Big Dad during his long losing campaign against cancer…. Montgomery describes the ad hoc medical education, the cabin fever, as well as the cascading mood swings that attend such crises -- part family reunion, part mass nervous breakdown. Her memoir of a belatedly dutiful daughter, harrowing and inevitably heartbreaking, also manages to be scathingly funny.”
—Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

“Don’t Miss: Mumzy likes her first gin at 8:45 AM. Big Dad loves his food, or did, before cancer took his appetite. Lee Montgomery tends to her frail, patrician parents while they cling fiercely to their habits—and, memorably, to life.”

"A monster mother, a beloved father, a trio of grown siblings who reunite to deal with a death in the family.... The Things Between Us is unflinching and absolutely as fascinating as it is sad. It's also a scathing attack on the practice of medicine in America today and a-perhaps inadvertent-plea for us to rethink the role of hospice and our dying process."
—Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life

“In Lee Montgomery’s bracing, gimlet-eyed memoir, The Things Between Us (Free Press), news of her father’s cancer is greeted with a gallon of scotch and a chaser of denial.”
Vanity Fair

“[The Things Between Us is] Lee Montgomery's stunning addition to the literature of drunken mothers: Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight," Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club," Carolyn See's "Dreaming," to name just a few of the books in the last decade inspired by a generation of wasted matriarchs. Montgomery has a lovely, straightforward, trustworthy style. You like her utter lack of self-pity. You appreciate the absence of bitterness and judgment. There's no pretense of offering some grand lesson, other than love: Love as best as you can for as long as you can. That's all.”
—Susan Salter Reynolds, LA Times

“This heartfelt memoir is a testament to the ties that bind a family--no matter how dysfunctional—together. … In the end, what brings them together is their shared stake in a family and a past that shaped the persons they had become. This forthright testament to the memories and emotions that inevitably bubble beneath the surface tackles universal questions of love and loss without judgment or bitterness.”

"This memoir of a beloved father's dying is about resilience. What might appear as courage is instead the terrible and hilarious mechanics of a daughter's coping with both her father's failing and her outré family's inability to cope. Lee Montgomery draws the reader down a poignant, frightening, and sensual path that begins with word of her father's illness to the final separation of his sparkling spirit from his depleted body. The journey is unforgettable."
—Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, author of Girls of Tender Age

"Family stories are always tales of great complexity and The Things Between Us is no exception. Though we meet the Montgomerys--idiosyncratic, funny, dramatic and vaguely glamorous--during the final months of Lee's father's illness, they are still entertaining to be around. The book shows us the Montgomerys, past and present, as they try to locate some kind of emotional equilibrium with this new turn of events, showing the reader that there is really only one thing between them, and that is love."
—Whitney Otto, author of A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity

“Montgomery writes her memoir with precision and grace, showing how a parent's decline and ultimate death can unite a family and lead to self-discovery, forgiveness, and healing.”
Library Journal

“A tough but bittersweet memoir of her Massachusetts WASP family brought together once again by [the] father's illness while also battling many demons from their past.”
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Startlingly honest and lyrically written.”
—Jennifer Lord,MetroWest Daily News

“A beautifully written book, [The Things Between Us is the] engrossing account of a family facing the loss of a loved one, which will certainly touch others in the same predicament.”
—Susan Wickstrom, The Oregonian

“Written with humor and grace, and devoid of sappy sentimentality, you laugh and you cry as you feel the family’s love for each other reach through the pages of a memoir that reads like a novel.”
—Mary Colvig-Rhodes, Topanga Messenger

“Montgomery’s sentences and imagery are like good earth. You want to hold this stuff in your hand and your heart, because it’s ultimately a journey we’ll all face; our parents will get old and die, and we’ll no longer be able to dodge the big questions; how do you forgive a parent who failed you? … Memoir done right.  ”

“Lee Montgomery has captured the bittersweet truths of an American family with humor and grace. Much more than a memoir, the book is … an object lesson on how a death in the family has the power to reawaken life in others. Montgomery proves that life is far richer than fiction.”
—Catherine New,Metro

“[T]he simple grace of [Montgomery’s] prose evokes a long-ago time, way before it became fashionable for autobiography to devolve into lurid semi-truths and scandal. … [She] writes with tenderness and candor, shifting smoothly into memories of past years, of the things that have come to define [her father]— and herself — as people. The Things Between Us is a beautiful tribute to a funny old guy who laughed loud and often, and whose daughter did the best she could to make him less lonely as he left the planet.”
—Amy Finch, The Phoenix