We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rosemary and Fern were inseparable growing up, revelling in growing and learning together and soaking up as much attention as possible from their family and anyone who visited their home, including their father’s graduate research students. That is, until the day Fern vanishes from family life turning Rosemary from a bright, talkative child into a confused young woman desperately seeking answers to the disappearance of her sister and the reason for her older brother running away.

Karen Joy Fowler’s arguably most successful novel The Jane Austen Book Club is a book I absolutely adore so I had very high hopes for We are all completely beside ourselves. Although the plot couldn’t be more different, the writing is as beautiful and packed with emotion whilst being fiercely intelligent with enormous depth. Karen Joy Fowler really knows how to take the reader and make them empathise wholly with her characters. At points, I was so immersed in the story I forgot I was reading a novel, it honestly could have been a true life childhood memoir.

My copy of this book came with a note advising me to tweet my reaction when I reached page 77 which intrigued me and I have to say, I did not guess the big plot reveal in the slightest (which dented my ego somewhat as somebody who studied this kind of thing at university!). Suffice to say, what starts as a normal family memoir ends as something entirely different and is one of the most original plots I have had the pleasure of reading in years.

I can’t remember ever reading a novel which has so easily balanced humour and important moral issues in the way Karen Joy Fowler has here. I found myself thinking about the subject of this novel in between reading sessions in more depth than I ever would have before outside of my degree.

I cried and laughed my way through this book and fell in love with Rosemary and Fern to the extent that I was sad when I reached the end. It really is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in a long time and I have no doubt I will be giving copies to my friends and families for many Birthdays and Christmasses to come.

This review was first published on Nudge-books.com and Goodreads on 8th May 2014.

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