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Unravelling Oliver [Paperback]

Liz Nugent
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
Price: £9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

6 Mar 2014

'Compelling, clever and dark, unlike any other psychological thriller you will have read before ... you'll gobble it up in one go.' Heat Magazine

'Gone Girl meets The Spinning Heart ... a great cracking read ... I couldn't put it down' Ryan Tubridy, RTÉ

'The compulsion to continue reading never wanes and most impressively the ending doesn't buckle under the weight of expectation ... a persistently satisfying read' Sunday Times

'A page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense' Sunday Independent

'An ambitiously structured and compelling "whydunnit"' Daily Mail

'Formidable' Irish Times

'Reminiscent of The Book of Evidence' RTE Guide

'We read this in one sitting ... satisfyingly unnerving.' Woman's Way

'All I know is I stayed awake until 3am to finish it, which I haven't done with a new novel for longer than I can remember.' Irish Independent

'The best opening line you'll read all year ... and you'll keep reading' Sinead Crowley, RTE Arts Correspondent

'Just read a book in one sitting. Last time I managed that was about twenty years ago. The book was Liz Nugent's Unravelling Oliver' Declan Burke, CrimeAlwaysPays.ie

'A kind of Irish Mr Ripley ... Gripping, thought-provoking' Darragh McManus, arts journalist

'I read this book over a 24 hour period. I seriously could not put it down.' Writing.ie

'Magnificent ... compulsively readable ... stunning, shock and superb' Frank McGuinness

'I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.'

Liz Nugent's gripping novel of psychological suspense, Unravelling Oliver, is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children's books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease - enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written short stories for children and adults. Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Ireland (6 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844883094
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844883097
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written short stories for children and adults. Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy Psychological thriller 6 Mar 2014
By Ismay1012 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
‘Unravelling Oliver’ is the debut novel of Liz Nugent and what a wonderful novel it is. The story unfolds chapter by chapter with Oliver, his friends and acquaintances adding more to the story with each chapter, sometimes confirming what others have told, but retelling the story from their point of view.

The main character, Oliver, has been damaged by his sad boyhood, brought up in a boarding school without the love of his parents. He gradually pieces together information about his roots. His maternal family remained a mystery but his father is revealed to be an important man who is haunted by his mistakes and wants nothing to do with Oliver. It is little wonder that Oliver is cold and lacks empathy and eventually perpetuates his own story. However, despite these unhappy facts, Oliver remains a character that never endears himself to you. He is an egotist and is prepared to go to any lengths to make a better life for himself without heed for others.

The story starts with Oliver’s success. He is a talented author of children’s fiction. His series of books have made him wealthy beyond belief and he is very proud of his success. Married to Alice, a talented book illustrator, he has risen above his poor beginnings. When Alice returns from her holiday with her friend and neighbour in France, she is remote and obviously distressed. One night over supper she reveals what she has learnt, they argue and Oliver beats her so severely she is left in a coma. The remarkable story of what led Oliver to this action is full of surprises, suspense, shame, guilt, deception and subterfuge. It pulls no punches and is both thrilling and horrific. Oliver’s secret past is full of shameful acts. He is a merciless sociopath, distant and full of self-justification for his heinous actions.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man unravelled! 6 Mar 2014
By C. Bannister TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
Unravelling Oliver is one of those books that I knew I would love as soon as I started reading it.
‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’
These words written by Oliver about what he did to his wife on 12 November 2011 in Dublin. After I had read his words I was chilled, here appears to be a man with no remorse and no motive so what made Oliver batter his wife Alice so badly that she was left in a coma.

The publishers, Penguin Ireland, tell us; ‘Unravelling Oliver, is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith,’ and I can’t disagree.

In this tradition Liz Nugent has employed some of the characters that Oliver Ryan came into contact with during the five decades of his life to reveal small but telling details. Told as if they are giving interviews to the media as monologues, each character gives us a little more insight into Oliver’s character and the events that shaped his life. Barney who was Alice’s boyfriend before Oliver and met him the night he attacked Alice is the first to have his say but there are plenty of others who have encountered Oliver during his life. Throughout the book Oliver, and others who have met him, unwrap the things he thought he had kept hidden and unravel his life, so that as readers we get an insight into the why of this charismatic, but deeply flawed character.
The originality, cleverness and fantastic characters which peel back the layers of Oliver over the years along with evidence of previous events presented in one way by Oliver and another by alternative narrators was a sheer delight to read.

I am delighted that the publishers gave me a copy of this book in return for my honest review as I wouldn’t have wanted to miss meeting Oliver Ryan!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificently constructed. 6 Mar 2014
By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Thank you to the publisher for the advance copy.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the leafy suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and puts her into a coma.
In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

To say this book was gripping would be to put it mildly. And I don’t think I have seen a book so aptly titled in a long time. Unravelling Oliver is exactly right. Oliver and Alice seem to have the perfect marriage – he writes childrens books, she illustrates them, and a fair few people are envious of what they have together. Then one night for no apparent reason, Oliver beats Alice, severely and without mercy. But why? What exactly made him crack?

What follows is a compelling and comprehensive “unravelling” of the man behind the mask – told from various points of view, including Oliver’s, we begin to build a picture of the true nature of both the marriage and the people. As those that crossed Oliver’s path over the years tell their story you will be fascinated, sometimes horrified but always urged onwards, unable to look away.

This is terrific writing because there are many strands to this one – Oliver’s childhood, his formative relationships, background filled in by those who knew him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Unusual but quite fascinating!
Published 3 days ago by Lamartine
5.0 out of 5 stars riveting
Such a cleverly written book. Loads of twists. As the book ssys it unravels Oliver. Cannot wait for another book by this author. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Dorothy Arthurs
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing
This is a great read with characters that you can really relate too . Could not put it down .
Published 5 days ago by Jill
4.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB
If you are looking for something different and a real page turner, this is the book for you, read it in a day and will read again at a slower pace to take in the carefully and... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Elizabeth Mackay
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book I have read considering all the publicity that ...
Not the best book I have read considering all the publicity that this book got. The writing style and language just didn't suit me I guess. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Anna Malone
5.0 out of 5 stars ... but this book I most say it was the best story as yet that I have...
I don't know if Oliver was insane or just delusional but this book I most say it was the best story as yet that I have had the privilege of reading and could not put down for a... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Linda T
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel
This is one of the best books I've read in recent times. It's complex (but deceptively simple in the early chapters), compelling and quite original in both it's telling and... Read more
Published 28 days ago by P. Waldron
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read...
I was gripped from the start, very well written - I hope Liz Nugent is busy with her next novel!
Published 1 month ago by Sally Jennings
4.0 out of 5 stars Unravelling Oliver By Liz Nugent
UNRAVELLING OLIVER
BY
LIZ NUGENT

Unravelling Oliver, by Liz Nugent is an engaging and well written work of fiction. Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Mother Booker
5.0 out of 5 stars "I didn't think learning about one person would be so interesting. But...
We are first introduced to the protagonist, Oliver, on the first page. Where he has just hit his wife,
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her. Read more
Published 1 month ago by AvidAbbie
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