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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 (969 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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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: 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:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (969 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 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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40 of 44 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 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At first this seemed like a run-of-the-mill family saga with dysfunctional relationships and mysteriously absent siblings. Then we are given a startling piece of information that reverses all our perceptions but at the same time makes sense of all that has gone before.

I can see why some reviewers think that it's permissible to give away the twist, but I think they're wrong. Although it comes at only a quarter of the way through, it's necessary to experience the shock to appreciate the enormity of what has happened. There are two major themes in this book. Rosemary, the narrator is vociferous in her condemnation of the injustice suffered by both her siblings. She is, however, less aware of what has been done to her and how children are affected by the decisions adults make. I think this is why the author has portrayed her as glib and seemingly shallow, at least in the earlier chapters.

I really loved this book. It is profound, gripping and unlike anything I've read before. If you're going to read it, be prepared to suspend disbelief sometimes, and make every effort to avoid spoilers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I warmed to this tale of a girl who admitted she had been very jealous of her sister, when she was young. Her sister outperformed her in nearly every thing she did. When she was five her sister was suddenly gone out of her life. The reader is given no immediate reason why. The narrrator’s family life starts to unravel from then, her mother having a breakdown, her father drinking heavily, and her adored older brother having disappeared. The reason why her sister disappears will certainly surprise you and make you relook at the animal experiments of the 20th century in a different light. This book has the ability to introduce serious and complex issues and to leave you thinking whether they are justified in any case.
I give it 5 stars as it has such an interesting twist, and I feel it provokes thought about the way we see and treat the world and our nearest neighbours, genes wise. As well, the characterisation is excellent as I fell in love with all the characters and their vulnerabilities.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant storytelling, quite apart from the actual story being told.
To quote from a page near the end of the book: 'I've told you the middle of my story now. I've told you the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. Read more
Published 3 hours ago by Gerard P.
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
A truly unputdownable book which entwined a story with theories and real life experiments. Well written with believable plot and characters.
Published 4 hours ago by rita lee
2.0 out of 5 stars Annoying
The book starts of very serious and seems quite dark. Unfortunately I found the big plot twist just ridiculous and lost the enthusiasm to read much further. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel will remain in my mind for many many years.
This novel will remain in my mind for many many years. It was initially just a pleasant read, then slowly turned more interesting, more serious.
Published 15 hours ago by Ransen Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting read with a twist
Published 17 hours ago by jacqueline horne
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of the comfort zone
This book was a joy to read, so unusual in content and in construction. Not always easy to read, but so thought provoking. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by CJD
4.0 out of 5 stars slow starter
Wasn't sure what this book was about at first, and then suddenly Bam! you're part of the family. I grew to like this book.
Published 1 day ago by Gnosnikrap
4.0 out of 5 stars We are all
Enjoyed it. I wonder if the idiosyncratic structure added much to the telling however. Despite..gains.of.understanding.my.view.remains.that these experiments.are. Read more
Published 1 day ago by AVRIL E M CLARK
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it at the time but it didn't stay with ...
Clever and interesting, I enjoyed it at the time but it didn't stay with me at all. I found the main characters a little one-dimensional.
Published 1 day ago by Blossom Rayner
5.0 out of 5 stars Family saga?
This is a very accomplished book - Karen Joy Fowler is completely on top of her material, understands her characters, and leads her readers gently by the hand through a... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Penelope Swan
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