Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – by Karen Joy Fowler

51xeXD2W63LRosemary has just started at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family.

Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. And it was this decision, made by her parents, to give Rosemary a sister like no other that began all of Rosemary’s trouble.

So now she’s telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it’s a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice. It’s funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a sharply written, astutely observant novel which veers from funny to bittersweet to outright tragic over the course of its pages. It’s a family drama about a family who, while far from typical in many ways, is absolutely typical in others. It’s fair to say that practically nobody will ever have had the experience of growing up in a family quite like Rosemary’s, and yet everyone will recognise elements of their own family relationships in the novel. There are secrets, there are misunderstandings, there are misjudgements. What’s unsaid in Rosemary’s family is just as important – often more so – than what’s said, and indeed, talking too much, not talking at all or talking in ways that fail in their objective are recurring themes throughout the book.

We Are all Completely Beside Ourselves would make for a good book club choice as it raises many questions about ethical choices, what makes us who we are and family relationships.

Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and shortlisted for the 2014 Mann Booker Prize.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.