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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves [Kindle Edition]

Karen Joy Fowler
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,554 customer reviews)

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Book Description

***Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014***





Rosemary's young, just at college, and she's decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourselves, round about page 77, what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.



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 hope you enjoy it, and if, when you're telling a friend about it, you do decide to spill the beans about Fern - it's pretty hard to resist - don't worry. One of the few studies Rosemary doesn't quote says that spoilers actually enhance reading.



Product Description

Review

'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: 2085 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • 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:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,554 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #127 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
150 of 166 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I am not exactly beside myself 6 Nov. 2014
By Rough Diamond TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I really wanted to like this but, sadly, I just couldn't. That's my loss, probably, as it's had plenty of positive reviews but, for what it's worth, here are the three things I disliked most about 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves':

1) The central idea of the book (the relationship between Rosemary and her sister Fern) is brilliant but, frustratingly, it seldom gets to take centre stage. It's as though the novel has ADHD, and rather than getting fully to grips with the amazing sibling relationship at its core, it's instead constantly being distracted by what ought to be its minor themes (family politics, animal rights activism), such that it ends up completely losing focus.

2) The plotting feels tremendously contrived, in the sense that every event in the plot is very clearly taking place for a predetermined didactic reason: THIS takes place to make THIS point, and then THAT takes place to make THAT point. It's frankly a bit claustrophobic for the reader. I felt like I was having my hand held by the author, to make sure I joined all the numbers correctly on a dot-to-dot puzzle. I didn't feel like I was being given any imaginative space of my own at all.

3) Rosemary, the book's narrator, has possibly the most gratingly glib narrative voice I've ever encountered. It could be that this is an amazing feat of literary ventriloquism. Karen Joy Fowler (who is now in her mid-60s) has created a perfectly convincing (and perfectly irritating) narrator who was only in her early 20s circa 1996, when most of the book's action takes place, and whose smug, arch and condescending 'Dear Reader' asides punctuate the narrative with dismaying regularity. Or equally it could be that Karen Joy Fowler is just inherently a smug, glib and condescending writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014

I heard about this book on the radio. It was being reviewed by a woman who was almost beside herself as she felt unable to tell much about the book due to a significant fact that is disclosed on page 77. At that point I decided not to listen anymore - intrigued - and when given the opportunity to read this, took it up instantly. All I knew from the few minutes of the review that I heard was that the story was narrated by a young woman called Rosemary, whose family had suffered great loss, and is now about as dysfuntional as you can get. She once had a brother, Lowell and a sister, Fern. But now they were no longer part of the family. I was not at all sure what to expect - murder? random death? disease? overseas travel? misadventure? abduction by aliens? The impending arrival of page 77 weighed heavily as nothing was being disclosed, the clues were virtually non-existant, the choppy and confusing style of writing was beginning to drive me crazy - jumped around from the present to the past, characters appearing and disappearing again. I had to keep rereading what I had read just a couple of pages previous as it had no relevance to what was taking place. But that whole page 77 thing kept me hooked in. And the reveal is a huge reveal, so huge I actually went back to the beginning and skimmed those 77 pages again just to see if I had really missed the clues, which apparently were there, but I still could not see them.

So the reveal is too big to disclose, and I won't say what it is. Suffice to say that the trauma of the event when Rosemary was five years old transformed her from a bright, chatty, articulate, loving little girl into a guilt ridden, lonely, silent and deeply unhappy child.
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70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, wise, dazzlingly well-written 30 Oct. 2014
By Edie
Format:Paperback
It's hard to review this book because the extraordinary revelation about 70 pages in is what makes the story unique, but to spoil this for a new reader would be to rid narrator Rosemary of her intention: to get the reader to understand how normal her odd life was to her, before they pigeon hole it as extraordinary.
I loved this book. The structure is ambitious and it could have fallen flat. But it is the making of the novel. It starts in the middle - flips back and forth, with Rosemary remembering and misremembering, reinterpreting events as shreds of information arrive over the decades, to help her make sense of her life and work out what responsibility she had for the events that resulted in her sister's abrupt severance from the family. It was brave of Fowler to pick Rosemary as her narrator, since Rosemary knows almost nothing. The same story told from the dynamic reaction of her brother Lowell might have created a thrillerish level of suspense. But what Fowler excels at is making the extraordinary normal - really digging in deep to show how it might feel to have lived such a powerfully, socially alienating different life.
While the story is gripping and heart-wrenching, strongest of all is the characterisation of Rosemary. She's hard to like. But that reaction pulls a reader up short. There's nothing unpleasant about Rosemary. nothing bad or cruel. She's just...odd. Fowler shows us how easily we withdraw from the truly 'other' people around us. Not the sketched-in different-but-endearing characters that crop up in novels with, say, notionally Asbergic narrators, but someone potentially neuro-typical whose grounding in life makes her fundamentally different from us in every way, except in a way that makes it easy to categorise her as other.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull
A page-turner this was not. I struggled to pick it up and I'm delighted to have reached the end...
Working towards the crux of the story, around page 70 as many reviewers have... Read more
Published 9 hours ago by H. K. Cecil
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Worth reading but not spectacular
Published 10 hours ago by Portia
3.0 out of 5 stars So so
I don't really like animals so I didn't warm to this book. I couldn't care enough about the characters to feel invested in their fates.
Published 15 hours ago by Ruth Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really enjoyed this book. Quite different but well written and captivating
Published 19 hours ago by Carol Robertson
2.0 out of 5 stars Read the first 80 pages, then stop.
Disappointing.
As some comedian once may have said:
"Starts badly, tails off in the middle, and the less said about the end the better"
Perhaps not so bad at... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Willbertb
5.0 out of 5 stars superb - couldn't put it down!
Stuff about long words and quotes were forced - it takes genius to do that naturally.
Normally hate the modern trend for going backwards and forwards in books but it really... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Fiona Hallworth
5.0 out of 5 stars animal rights and childhood memory
This story is about our relationship with animals (specifically here, our cousins the chimps) and more broadly other animals which we use to study and compare ourselves with. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Minminya
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved every page
Fascinating book! Loved every page.
Published 1 day ago by Ms T J Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising and thought-provoking
A devastating, very well written book which had me laughing in public and enthralled right up to the last sentence. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Imogen Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 2 days ago by Diane Stewart
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