Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We are all completely beside ourselvesI’m not quite sure how to review this novel without giving the game away.  Now it may be that you have already read numerous reviews and know all about it.  Lets face it, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2014 so their have been lots of reviews around. However, I’m not going to take that risk.  This book has a completely surprising twist and I’m not prepared to spill the beans!  Mainly because (in my opinion) it’s so unexpected, that without it I’m sure my enjoyment of the novel would have been much less.

The story is told by Rosemary, an American college student..  When Rosemary was 5 she woke up one morning in her Grandparents home to find her sister Fern missing.  She has never seen her again.  This has had a profound effect on her life and Rosemary has spent many years trying to forget the circumstances of Ferns disappearance.  Ten years ago, her brother Lowell also left home and she hasn’t seen him since.  Now at college Rosemary is  forced to re-live the circumstances of these losses and face up to her childhood and unusual life.

This story is cleverly told and Rosemary is an interesting story teller.  For the first 77 pages before the big reveal her narration could be a little frustrating, as she seems to hop around the incidents she is relating and isn’t always completely clear.  However, from page 77 onwards it all begins to make sense and sympathies and understandings shift.  This is a story of broken families and relationships; of disappointments and eventually of healing and one that demands to be read

Karen Joy Fowler says “The world is a complicated, surprising, often horrible and often beautiful place” .  This is all clearly evident in her 10th novel, and I would encourage anyone to read it and discover all of this.

If you would like to find out more about this highly unusual novel and don’t mind the spoiler then I would urge you to have a look at this Q & A with Karen Joy Fowler. Or even better save it for after you have read the book.

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4 Comments

  1. August 17, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    I also loved the book and agree that it’s essential you don’t now the twist!

    • August 17, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      I’m glad you agree. It would spoil so much of what makes the book so good.

  2. August 18, 2015 / 7:29 am

    It’s such a wonderful book, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Lovely review!

    • August 20, 2015 / 7:12 pm

      Thanks Alice. It was such interesting subject matter for a story. I loved it.

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