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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves [Kindle Edition]

Karen Joy Fowler
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (643 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description


'A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get' Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times Book Review

'A dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but' Alice Sebold

'Fowler has given us the gift of a splendid novel. Not only is the story fascinating, moving, and beautifully written, but also it ripples with humor; its quirky characters include a puppet named Madame Defarge and a Seinfeldian assortment of apartment dwellers. Layered with a huge moral compass and enormous humanity, this portrait of a family one-fifth simian will, nevertheless, touch and delight every human 'Boston Globe

'Hinges upon Rosemary's sharp voice, which at its best includes funny, self-aware asides such as an early reference to a character at a holiday dinner where she flippantly advises the reader, "Don't get attached to him; he's not really part of this story' LA Times

'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is that rare thing, a comic novel that wrestles seriously with serious moral questions ... Fowler knows how to make her story funny and sad and disturbing and revelatory by erecting a space in which her reader is allowed to feel all of that for herself' Salon

'So thought provoking on the topic of animal rights that it could alter your future decisions as a consumer. I don't want to say much about the plot of the book ... except to compare it to Ann Patchett's State of Wonder in terms of weaving a larger story of radical, scientific experimentation into a very personal woman's narrative' MSN

'Rosemary's voice is achingly memorable, and Fowler's intelligent discourse on science vs. compassion reshapes the traditional family novel into something more universally relevant... This brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense' Miami Herald

'Halfway through Karen Joy Fowler's enthralling novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, I was sort of beside myself, too, with that electric thrill of discovering a great book. I wanted to stay up all night to finish it, but I also wanted to stop and call all my book-loving friends immediately and blurt, "You have to read this book!" ' Cleveland Plain Dealer

'[A]n unsettling, emotionally complex story that plumbs the mystery of our strange relationship with the animal kingdom - relatives included' Ron Charles, Washington Post

'Karen Joy Fowler has written the book she's always had in her to write. With all the quiet strangeness of her amazing Sarah Canary, and all the breezy wit and skill of her beloved Jane Austen Book Club, and a new, urgent gravity, she has told the story of an American family. An unusual family-but aren't all families unusual? A very American, an only-in-America family-and yet an everywhere family, whose children, parents, siblings, love one another very much, and damage one another badly. Does the love survive the damage? Will human beings survive the damage they do to the world they love so much? This is a strong, deep, sweet novel' Ursula K Le Guin

'It's been years since I've felt so passionate about a book. When I finished at 3 a.m., I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending, and cried all over again' Ruth Ozeki

'Are we animals, or are we something else? This is the urgent question ever roiling beneath the surface in Karen Fowler's alarming tale of a family's rude awakening to the true meaning of the word "primal." Reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is both a delight and a provocation. I turned the last page nearly breathless with admiration' Valerie Martin

'One of the greatest pleasures I take in reading is being able to hand over the books that thrill me, which this summer would be Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves' Ann Patchett, Wall Street Journal

'A gripping and surreptitiously intelligent book about a family's falling apart after a young daughter is sent away. Who - or what - the young daughter is can't be discussed without revealing a major spoiler, suffice it to say it is a whopper. The book is far deeper and more ambitious, however, than its central conceit would lead one to think' Khaled Hosseini

'Intelligent and forces the reader to question what we owe our fellow creatures' Elizabeth George

'This surreptitiously smart novel's big reveal slyly recalls a tabloid headline' New York Times, Notable Books 2013

'Spectacular, deep, zingy ... Simultaneously a high-speed antic and an absolutely essential meditation on nothing less than what it means to be a good person ... I gasped aloud and put this book down more than once, filled with ache and worry for the characters; I laughed aloud several times; and when it was done, the big questions it raised about kindness, empathy, and cruelty lingered with me and show no signs of fading. It's one thing to write a deep book. It's another altogether to write a deep book that clips along like a pop song, one that periodically skewers you on events and questions that pin you to the world and demand that you confront things that we've all carefully avoided for most of our lives' Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

'One of the best twists in years makes this novel unique, captivating and so moving it will stay with you for a long time' Stylist

Book Description

By the author of worldwide bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club: you can't choose your family, but they can make choices for you. Big, life-defining choices.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 546 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 184668966X
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (6 Mar 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184668966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846689666
  • ASIN: B00EZTLN62
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (643 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pitch perfect 20 Aug 2014
By Helen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm working my way through the Booker longlist and, while I've enjoyed what I've read thus far, this is the first book I've personally completed that has a genuine sense of humour and made me laugh out loud. That's not to say it's a comedy or a light-hearted trope - it's really, really not - but it is part of the human condition that we find humour even when times are black so, despite the plot being far removed from my own experiences, I found it compellingly believable and realistic.

The main character, Rosemary, is cleverly conceived. As a small child, she challenged herself to learn new 'big' words and this is perfectly mirrored in her narration, where they are often thrown in. She is isolated and, she believes, unloved, but she's a genuine, warm person. The twist in the tale, coming not at the end but before the middle of the novel, had me gasping in shock. Fowler's plotting and chronology are pitch perfect. My only complaint is the ending seemed to happen far too quickly and I wished for a lot more.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By T. M.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Karen Joy Fowler‘s book only really jumped out at me from the Amazon bestseller list because of the captivating cover, I’ll confess. But reading a story like this without knowing too much about the plot is a good idea, because this is a novel full of surprises and characters worth getting to know. I won’t spoil any of the major plot points, even the ones which come early on, so that you can get the same out of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as I did.

I’ll just say that this is a great book for anyone who enjoys the vagaries of a really heartfelt first-person narrative, and anyone with any interest in psychology and human nature. It’s not a dry, scientific dissection of the latter, but a naive (and latterly a heart-wrenchingly wise) examination of family, memory and what it truly means to be human.

The story is told by Rosemary Cooke, a precocious child who somehow turned from a happy chatterbox into a strangely silent and isolated college student. She gives you the window into her past that she denies her friends, teasing with early suggestions that something big has shaped the way she, and her entire family, is. Revelations spring up in every chapter, feeling like much-desired pieces to a beautiful puzzle rather than random moments of inspiration on the writer’s part. It is as if Fowler inhabited the character’s thoughts and her history while she wrote this. Rosie is by turns hilarious, painfully honest, observant, and then perhaps even betrayed by her own memory and nature. Any way that you view her as a protagonist, you root for her and read her disjointed memories with a determination not just to get to the root of the story, but to enjoy her whimsical telling of it.

It begins in the middle, ends more than once and begins again. It’s a real masterpiece of construction and style, and the plot is one you won’t forget in a hurry. I’d recommend it to anyone.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read if you have things that need doing 31 Mar 2014
By M. Chantal Lyons VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had the twist in the story spoiled for me by a review in The Times, but I'm glad about it, because in spite of the other glowing reviews, books that are simply about people's messed-up families don't normally appeal to me. This one, though, has a unique concept at its heart that elevates it above many of the books in its genre. It's especially recommended for animal-lovers.

Fowler's writing, apart from a few instances of purple prose, is highly immersive, and the humour is dry and well-observed. Once you know exactly why Rosemary Cooke's family is so unusual, the book's emotional heft comes from discovering in piece-meal fashion the inevitable yet still hard-hitting revelations of the past. This is a story that simply won't let you go, and will linger long after you've finished it. It poses hard questions and acknowledges that there may never be 'right' answers to them, and it thoughtfully explores the consequences of a real-life scientific experiment that was conducted in several families in the US in the twentieth century (if this doesn't make much sense, sorry - I don't want to give the twist away!)

Beautifully written, and bound to make your eyes prick with tears by the end. I especially appreciated the bitter-sweet ending. Life is rarely otherwise.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read for ages 1 Jun 2014
By elsie purdon TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have just finished reading this novel and am completely bowled over by it, and also still feeling very emotional. At the end I cried.
This is not a a story of a messed up family . It is a story of an unusual family.
At first I found the main character Rosemary very odd and the novel felt odd. Rosemary is telling the story and she is starting in the middle. We don't yet know why anyone is the way they are.
Once the story reaches a certain place and I had a context for Rosemary and her siblings then I realised I was reading a remarkable novel.
The book has a dry humour that totally appeals to me. I began to feel at home with this imaginary family and wanted them to be real people who are living somewhere.
There is also a lot of information packed in here which I am taking as reliable because of the author's references to other pieces of writing, and other books at the end of this book.
I do not want to even hint at the twist, apparently already given away in a review in The Times. So I can only speak vaguely.
It is a story about an unusual family, their relationships and their memories of events. Two people hardly ever see the same event in the same way. In a family an event can have several explanations.
The novel is American. Some of the references are too American for me to know, but that doesn't matter.
Throughout the book are scattered words I don't know, have never heard of. I suppose I should look them up in my dictionary but I can't be bothered and I don't think I am losing out by not bothering. If the meaning is needed in the novel it gets explained.
I think this book can be life changing because it gives the reader a lot to think about, if they want to.
I love love it. Am glad I read it and totally recommend it. I think this is a book about the way we live on the this planet and the way we effect it. There is a serious side to this writing, clearly the author has serious concerns and I feel in agreement with her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars We are all completely beside ourselves
What a weird book. Have not reached the end yet, but don't think I will change my view that it is a very odd story.
Published 4 hours ago by Carole C
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves - start didn't capture my attention -
Only started to enjoy it a third of the way in. Glad I persevered.
Published 5 hours ago by Mrs Elaine Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better the second tiime through
One of the great pleasures of this book is that it raises some 'big' issues in an way that doesn't spoil it being a good story. Read more
Published 5 hours ago by Fish pie
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected Pleasure
An enthralling story with interesting facts, words and observations on the human condition. Absolutely delightful. A book I can read over and over.
Published 9 hours ago by Cozy Toes
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and really enjoyable
This book isn't the kind of book that I normally read but I enjoyed it so much. The story is unique, has a great twist and really draws you in to the main characters family. Read more
Published 17 hours ago by F. Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychologically thrilling.
I thought it was a book written by a woman for women, maybe it was? But it was one hell of a read and
I'll say it's just.... weird, and wonderful, or just plain great!
Published 20 hours ago by R.j.K.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
Had to read it for book club. I gave it two stars because it was an ok,readable,bit middle of the road book till the "twist" then I rolled my eyes and groaned and with much... Read more
Published 1 day ago by JenTV
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm - bit strange
Hmmm - read this as it was recommended but not fussed.... I love reading and tend to see things through - but not this one... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Lois Lane
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good book
Published 1 day ago by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars Such an unusual story - I loved this book
Such an unusual story - I loved this book. I really enjoyed the way the story is told and the direct engagement of Rosemary with us as the reader, a really great narrative style. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Dr. R. P. O'Brien
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