Rosemary's started college, and she's decided not to tell anyone about her family. 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 was something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. You'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.
©2014 Karen Joy Fowler (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
"A dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but." (Alice Sebold)
This is a book you should just pick up and read, don't research anything about it before you start.
If actually be interested to go back and re-listen to the first part of the book after I learnt more information about Rosemary's life.
I found it slightly humorous- I enjoyed the flat stories of her college days. There's still intrigue about some of her family at the end however I think it was ended well.
I did love this book., the telling was wonderful once I got a handle on the switch between past and present.
The subject matter was alluring and disturbing and I laughed and cried and felt slightly sick sometimes too.
This book surprised and delighted me.
I found this hard to get into at first as the narrators voice was monotonous and very little happened at the start BUT stick to it! After the first bit I was then hooked and it was really easily listening and highly enjoyable.
I absolutely loved this book! The only reason im taking a star off is because I did feel like I was missing a main story as I read it. But it felt real. and I was able to imagine myself in rosemary's shoes.
Sergiu is a novelist, composer, artist & sculptor. He was formerly a world class principal ballet dancer with the Royal-Ballet-Company.
Don't read the reviews because they may contain spoilers.
Given that more than 50% of the 1500 Amazon reviews are 5 stars, I am inclined to agree with the masses (for once).
I started by trying the free kindle sample and immediately I knew. This is a great novel and a wonderful example of brilliant storytelling, an intelligent story to boot, with realistically drawn characters. It is funny, witty, poignant, surprising, philosophical, insightful etc etc etc...
I could go on and give examples of metaphors and insights that I gained from this work, but I suggest you just read it.
The surprise about a third of the way through was something that I didn't expect.
A big BRAVO!!! to the author.
Well done and thank you.
That was three days well spent.
Sergiu Pobereznic (Amazon author)
A little slow and dry in the beginning, and I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to recommend it, but it was funny, surprising and provoked a lot of questions about ethics and about family.
Personally this story did not grab me... i could not identify with the story and when i found out what the family secret was it all just seemed ridiculous... not a fan
"Heart achingly subversive"
Nothing could have surprised me more than the experience of listening to this story. Highly suspicious of being bludgeoned into supporting any cause unwittingly, it was nonetheless extraordinarily fine to be pushed into uncomfortable places by the writer on numerous occasions.
Crafting together family dysfunction with wry humour and the inescapable tragedy it engenders in yet another way is a real accomplishment. Being human. What a gift, too often squandered.
The actor 's voice often threatened to make the tone far, far too sombre but on reflection, it seems appropriate.
This is an extraordinary book that deserved to win the Booker - it will stay with you long after its finished - told with humour and wit, and giving insight into how we might be, if we'd been raised only a little differently. A reflection on our place in the world.
"Not entirely convinced"
People who like to be outraged about how the human race treats anyone who is not human, but don't really do anything other than to be outraged and like Facebook pages of animal cruelty.
Naff, boring, disappointing.
Naff and boring. Once you find out about the alleged "twist" (which is not really a twist in my opinion) you stop caring about the story altogether. The main character is extremely dull and there's nothing to her. The story might be better if told from the brother's perspective. I just wanted to shout "get over it" to the main character throughout most of the book. Even though the subject of the story is interesting, the author (probably with the narrators help) managed to keep me completely uninterested, to the point that I can't even remember the main characters name, and I probably won't be able to remember the rest of the story by the end of the month.
"Most awful narrator ever!!!"
I didn't enjoy this book at all. I didn't find the story at all compelling and the narrator had the most awful intonation, a cracked and scratchy voice that sounded as though she was smiling the whole way through. Inflection at the end of EVERY sentence!!!! Drove me nuts.
"An amazing story with some powerful messages for humanity"
I loved this book so much. I was delighted to learn of its strong messages about compassion and empathy for the non-humans of this world who endure so much suffering at the hands of humans. We need more books like this to encourage the people to 'rise up already'.
"Utopia is not utopia for everyone."
I will not discuss the plot or the theme just the merits of this book.
it is as beautiful as it is sad; it is not as funny as it is real which can be funny at time. it is brutally honest, I would say painfully so; perhaps the most honest book about us the contemporary us, humanity us, western science, money driven society and yet it is a book about a family a nuclear family is all the senses you can get out of that word.
It explores language and communication and question their very essence. But mostly it is about regret and love and the power they have in our lives.
I loved the reader in this book, she was natural and created believable voice characters.
"Fab story beautifully told"
Very thought provoking story I was sad to finish it as I enjoyed it so much I wanted to learn more! Highly recommend!
"Ignore idea of a 'twist' for more satisfying read"
I would; I think Fowler is a very talented writer, but this subject possibly obliges her to write in great slabs of 'reported' events, which tend to nullify some moving writing.
I think the ending goes some way to recovering the previous two-thirds of book. It justifies Fowler's approach, but it doesn't quite rescue it.
I wouldn't seek her out. The marriage of her somewhat stoner monotone with the psychologically distant and unreliable narrative made for quite a dreary listen. There were quite a lot of mispronunciations too, which may indicate the product was rushed a little.
It inspired me to look into how far companies were go in securing the safety and effectiveness of their products. A vexed and emotive area indeed.
This book has largely been promoted on its 'twist' on page 77; I strongly recommend you don't see this as a twist, but as a necessity in getting the reader to look at the subject in a particular way, i.e. by dropping their prejudices. That's not a twist, and the book doesn't benefit from looking at it as one.
really enjoyed this book would definitrly revommend it. Perhaps initoally hard to get into but well worth hanging on. Good discussion at our book club about the like ability of characters, memory & early development in formative years effects later relationships. Split opionion aboit the ending amongst the group.
"A beautifully told , touching story."
I loved it. I could feel the pain of the story teller. My tears flowed and my heart was heavy.
"Terrible delivery, but reasonably worthwhile book"
I was initially deeply dismayed by the narrator's voice and style. It's the worst flat nasal American, almost entirely devoid of inflection. She's reading, rather than bringing it to life. As a result, some of the writing - particularly where a story or characterisation nuance turns on an inflected word - gets flattened and lost. There's also no attempt to differentiate voices, occasionally leading to some confusion on my part over who was speaking.
But once you get past this (and you do tune it out after a while; maybe it's in keeping with the narrator's age) the book is worthwhile. Not hugely, though... I still don't get why it was Booker-longlisted - it's a sort of B-minus piece, rather than the A* I expect from the Booker longlist. It's inventive, reasonably imaginative, and it has a kind of American college-kid angst bordering on depression that calls to mind Douglas Coupland and J. D. Salinger. And the title is clever - I liked the way it changed its meaning as the story progressed. It begins with a reference to an early episode with the children playing in the snow, 'beside themselves' with delight, but later comes to indicate the way that they are all 'beside themselves' with more negative emotions - rage, in Lowell's case, numbness in Rosemary's.
It's an engaging idea - and for all my criticism, my heart bled for Rosemary, Lowell and Fern, the three central characters - but as a piece of writing, it could have been more thoughtfully delivered. Having Rosemary narrate it from a single temporal point of view - her college career - bypasses the opportunity to narrate earlier memories from an earlier point of view, making her more complex as a character and aligning her more with her 'sister', Fern. This is not a first novel, but it has a lot of first-novel feel about it. For instance, there's too much 'putting in a bit of past history' just immediately before she needs to refer to it in the present, making it seem as if she's not in control of her material - although it's not a complex plot.
"Avoid avoid avoid!"
I'm not sure which was more dull, the story or the narration. This book should come with a warning hazard: might cause drowsiness! Save your credit and give it a miss. The central character is so boring, endlessly navel gazing about her lost "sister". But the brutal truth is the loss has no impact on the reader. In fact, once you've discovered the sister's secret the story becomes vaguely laughable, ridiculous even. I wanted to shake "Rosie" and shout "grow up! You're bleating about NOTHING." Ok, rant over, save to say that Katherine Mangold's narration is ear bleedingly awful.
"Brilliant story - terrible narrator"
A truly original story - informative, observant and heartbreaking.
However, the narrator is terrible. She has a horribly robotic voice with a 'smug' undertone. I would advise READING it. The only reason I persevered with the audio version is because I needed something for the dog walk!
That said, the book itself is wonderful and I would highly recommend it.
"Worth sticking with"
Second half of the book much more engaging than the first. Tearjerker for me and certain paragraphs I had to skip for tears.
"Thought provoking and gripping"
I adored this book. It encapsulated me in so many ways. I was sad to finish it! A must read.
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