All We Ever Wanted
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"All We Ever Wanted" Characters Analysis

By Emily Giffin

fiction | 334 pages | Published in 2018

In the riveting new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love and Something Borrowed, three very different people must choose between their family and their values.Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

ISBN_13:B07639D2G9

Estimated read time: 10 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Nina BrowningProtagonist
Tom VolpeProtagonist
Lyla VolpeSupporting
Finch BrowningSupporting
Kirk BrowningSupporting
Rob VolpeAntagonist
Sarah VolpeAntagonist

Role Identification

Nina Browning

Nina Browning is one of the main protagonists in "All We Ever Wanted." She is a wealthy, privileged woman living in Nashville. Nina plays a crucial role in highlighting the contrast between the affluent elite and the less privileged characters in the story.

Tom Volpe

Tom Volpe, another protagonist, is a single father who works hard to provide for his daughter, Lyla. He represents the working-class and serves as a voice for the less privileged in the book.

Lyla Volpe

Lyla Volpe is Tom's daughter and a supporting character in the story. She plays a pivotal role as the victim of a scandal that occurs at a prestigious private school.

Finch Browning

Finch Browning is Nina's son and a supporting character in the book. He struggles with the pressure of his mother's expectations and the consequences of his actions.

Kirk Browning

Kirk Browning, Nina's husband, is a successful businessman who is often absent from the family's life. His absence contributes to the challenges faced by Nina and Finch.

Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is Tom's ex-wife and an antagonist in the story. She is portrayed as a bitter and resentful character, seeking revenge on Tom and causing disruption in their lives.

Sarah Volpe

Sarah Volpe is Tom's sister and also an antagonist in the book. She is manipulative and plays a significant part in the scandal surrounding Lyla.

Character Descriptions

Nina Browning

Nina Browning is a beautiful and sophisticated woman in her early forties. She is the epitome of wealth and privilege, living in a luxurious mansion in Nashville. Nina is known for her impeccable style and her involvement in charity events. She is a devoted mother to Finch but struggles with the pressures of her social status and the expectations placed upon her.

Tom Volpe

Tom Volpe is a hardworking man in his late thirties. He is described as ruggedly handsome and carries himself with an air of resilience. Tom works as a carpenter and takes pride in his craftsmanship. He is a loving father who prioritizes his daughter's well-being above all else.

Lyla Volpe

Lyla Volpe is a teenage girl with a gentle demeanor and a strong sense of justice. She is described as having striking blue eyes and long, wavy brown hair. Lyla is intelligent and compassionate, often finding herself caught in the middle of conflicts between her parents.

Finch Browning

Finch Browning is a seventeen-year-old boy who struggles with the weight of his family's expectations. He is described as tall and athletic, with his father's dark hair and his mother's blue eyes. Finch is torn between wanting to please his parents and finding his own identity.

Kirk Browning

Kirk Browning is a successful businessman in his early fifties. He is often absent from his family's life due to his demanding career. Kirk is described as tall and distinguished, with graying hair and a commanding presence. Despite his absence, he loves his family and strives to provide for them.

Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is a woman in her early forties. She is described as bitter and manipulative, with a constant air of anger. Rob resents Tom and blames him for their failed marriage. She is determined to make him pay for what she perceives as his shortcomings.

Sarah Volpe

Sarah Volpe is a woman in her thirties, Tom's younger sister. She is described as cunning and devious, always scheming to get what she wants. Sarah is willing to manipulate others to achieve her goals, even if it means causing harm to those she claims to care about.

Character Traits

Nina Browning

  • Wealthy
  • Privileged
  • Stylish
  • Devoted
  • Insecure

Tom Volpe

  • Hardworking
  • Resilient
  • Loving
  • Honest
  • Protective

Lyla Volpe

  • Intelligent
  • Compassionate
  • Just
  • Brave
  • Sensitive

Finch Browning

  • Ambitious
  • Conflicted
  • Athletic
  • Self-conscious
  • Rebellious

Kirk Browning

  • Successful
  • Absent
  • Loving
  • Provider
  • Stressed

Rob Volpe

  • Bitter
  • Manipulative
  • Resentful
  • Angry
  • Vengeful

Sarah Volpe

  • Cunning
  • Devious
  • Opportunistic
  • Selfish
  • Calculating

Character Background

Nina Browning

Nina Browning comes from a wealthy and influential family in Nashville. She grew up surrounded by privilege and has lived a life of luxury. Nina married Kirk Browning, a successful businessman, and they have one son together, Finch. Despite her privileged background, Nina carries a certain level of insecurity due to the pressure to maintain her social status.

Tom Volpe

Tom Volpe grew up in a working-class family and has had to work hard to make ends meet. He learned the value of determination and resilience from an early age. Tom was married to Rob Volpe, but their marriage fell apart due to Rob's bitterness and resentment. He is now a single father, doing his best to provide for his daughter, Lyla.

Lyla Volpe

Lyla Volpe has lived a relatively sheltered life, but she has always been aware of the disparities between her family's circumstances and those of her wealthy classmates. Lyla is a bright student with a passion for social justice. She is affected deeply by the scandal that rocks her private school and brings her family into the spotlight.

Finch Browning

Growing up in a privileged household, Finch Browning has always felt the weight of his parents' expectations. He is torn between wanting to meet those expectations and finding his own identity. Finch struggles with the pressures of his social circle and the consequences of his actions.

Kirk Browning

Kirk Browning is a successful businessman who has dedicated his life to his career. His work often keeps him away from his family, causing strain in his relationship with Nina and Finch. Kirk's primary focus is providing for his loved ones, but his absence takes a toll on his family dynamics.

Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is bitter and resentful towards Tom, blaming him for their failed marriage. She holds onto her anger, seeking revenge and causing disruptions in Tom's life. Rob's actions are fueled by her desire to make Tom suffer.

Sarah Volpe

Sarah Volpe is Tom's younger sister, and she shares his cunning and manipulation. She often schemes to get what she wants, even if it means causing harm to others. Sarah's desire for power and control drives her actions throughout the story.

Character Arcs

Nina Browning

Nina Browning's character arc revolves around her journey from a seemingly perfect life to a realization of the flaws within her privileged world. Through the events of the story, Nina discovers the importance of genuine connections and personal growth. She learns to question her own values and priorities, ultimately finding a sense of purpose beyond her social status.

Tom Volpe

Tom Volpe's character arc centers around his transformation from a hardworking, resilient father to a man who learns to confront his past and stand up for what is right. He evolves from someone who tries to avoid conflict to someone who takes a stand against injustice, both for himself and for his daughter.

Lyla Volpe

Lyla Volpe's character arc is driven by her journey from innocence to awareness. She experiences the devastating effects of a scandal and the subsequent judgment from her peers. Lyla learns to navigate the complexities of social dynamics while discovering her own voice and standing up for her beliefs.

Finch Browning

Finch Browning's character arc revolves around his struggle to find his identity and break free from the expectations placed upon him. He faces the consequences of his actions and learns valuable lessons about integrity and self-discovery. Finch evolves from a rebellious teenager to a young adult who begins to understand the importance of authenticity.

Relationships

Nina Browning and Tom Volpe

Nina and Tom's paths cross when their children become involved in a scandal. Their relationship initially starts off tense due to their differing backgrounds and social statuses. However, as the story progresses, they develop a mutual respect and understanding, finding common ground as parents who want the best for their children.

Lyla Volpe and Finch Browning

Lyla and Finch share a close sibling bond, supporting each other through the challenges they face. They rely on each other for emotional support and understanding, especially during the turbulent times caused by the scandal. Their relationship grows stronger as they navigate the complexities of their family's changing dynamics.

Nina Browning and Lyla Volpe

Nina and Lyla's relationship is portrayed as loving and supportive. Nina is a devoted mother who wants to protect her daughter from the harsh realities of the world. As the story unfolds, their bond is tested, and they both learn to communicate and understand each other better.

Tom Volpe and Finch Browning

Tom and Finch have a complex relationship. Tom's absence due to work strains their bond, leaving Finch feeling neglected. However, as the story progresses, they work towards rebuilding their relationship and understanding each other's perspectives. Tom becomes a source of guidance and support for Finch as he navigates the challenges of adolescence.

Rob Volpe and Tom Volpe

Rob and Tom's relationship is characterized by bitterness and resentment. Rob's actions are driven by her desire for revenge against Tom, leading to conflicts and tension between them. Their relationship highlights the consequences of a failed marriage and the impact it has on both individuals and their families.

Sarah Volpe and Tom Volpe

Sarah and Tom's relationship is fraught with manipulation and deceit. Sarah uses her brother's vulnerabilities for her own gain, causing further complications in Tom's life. Their relationship showcases the destructive power of familial betrayal.

In "All We Ever Wanted," Emily Giffin skillfully crafts a cast of characters with diverse backgrounds and complex relationships. These characters undergo personal growth and transformation, navigating the challenges of privilege, social dynamics, and the consequences of their actions. Through their journeys, Giffin explores themes of identity, family, and the pursuit of authenticity in a world defined by appearances.