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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 (588 customer reviews)

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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 (588 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is an amalgam of various American icons and themes. As a little girl, our narrator, Rosemary, has the adult-in-a-grown-up's-body of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, whilst as a college student, she meets Harlow, her first real grown-up friend who comes over like Madonna: sassy and street-wise, and by taking Rosemary out of her comfort zone, she is the mechanism that allows the narrator's odd family story to unfold. On the surface, Rosemary's home-life is not that strange - a dad who becomes increasingly detached and unloved, a 'mom' on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a runaway brother, an unusual family pet, and an oft-referred-to inciting incident . . . The book's chronology switches backwards and forwards, before and after this incident, which when it is finally laid-out in front of us, doesn't seem "inciting" enough for what followed and the impact it had on all concerned. Ultimately, this is about the distorted realities and mythologies of all families (again, a very familiar theme), and how we all pay a heavy price for miscommunication and mistaken memories. After a fire-cracker start, the book flattens out, but finishes with a very powerful last page - and for me, that's only enough to get three stars. "Me Cheeta" covers some of the same territory, but with much more wit and wisdom.
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30 of 34 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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Ursath
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book due to the Booker Price long list, and was left with an uneasy feeling after finishing. The writing is beautiful, let me get that straight. Love the vocabulary, the phrasing- it is very genuine and I found it easy to bond with Rosemary, the protagonist.

But I am left with a host of issues: Just what was the book about? About Rosie and her emotions, the struggles of her childhood? The fact that her childhood and her lost sister have set her apart from others? Or is it about raising awareness of how we treat human beings, which is something that develops later in the book? I felt as the story went on, the motifs were all over the place.

I finished in three days, initially because I was curious and the build-up was great, but from mid-point simply because I grew annoyed, wanting to find out just what the point of the story was. The plot-twist (which is quite unlike any other I have read) was intriguing at first but I felt it could have been much more focussed in the second half of the book.Some characters were strong and memorable (Harlow, Reg, Matt) but others were just a bloat to the story (grandmothers and fathers, brother's friends, girlfriend).

Would I recommend it? Yes, perhaps to experience the interesting story telling and the plot twist. 3,5 stars from me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me? 12 Sep 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I must confess that I unwisely went and read some reviews of this novel before starting it, and discovered a, the details of the twist in the story and b, that the book may be upsetting or not advised reading for animal lovers. After this I have tried starting the book but have not yet been able to get far into it. Because I am a vine reviewer I have to place a review here, and I don't want to be unfair to the book either way so I have gone for the middle rating. I will revisit the book again and will certainly come back and update and or change my review accordingly if I am able to finish it.
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12 of 14 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So different, truly something everyone should read
This was a truly different book, I don't think I've ever read anything to compare it to. I really enjoyed it. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Mrs Karen Menzies
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I skimmed a lot of the book, it was ok.
Published 14 hours ago by CAB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book.
Published 1 day ago by Marlene E. Hedrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, it gets better as you keep going.
It too me a while to get into this book then all of a sudden I couldn't put it down, it make me laugh and then cry, and realise that I might have a more normal family than I... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating
Fantastic book. I loved the voice of the young narrator. It was full of humour and irreverence and uncertainty. Read more
Published 1 day ago by S. L. Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars A LESSON IN ACCEPTANCE
A hard earned 5 stars, not because of any fault in the novel but more on account of my impatience to find out why Fern had disappeared. Read more
Published 1 day ago by ReaderChum
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Shame this wasn't a true story, but it read like it was. Well researched and fairly well written. A good light read.
Published 2 days ago by joanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing and unexpected, could not put it down.
It is very hard not to be moved to tears for many reasons at many times throughout this exceptional book. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Jane
4.0 out of 5 stars A story about influences on emotional development and lots,more.
Confusing, complicated, fascinating. The reader and writer unravel and explore together. Fun and serious at the same time. I love these unusual books.
Published 2 days ago by Jill Bailey
4.0 out of 5 stars A very clever and entertaining read
This is a beautifully written book about what you think is normal family life. I loved the order in which the story is told starting in the middle then going back to the beginning... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Sparrowhawk
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