We are all completely beside ourselves

English language

Published Nov. 5, 2013


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5 stars (2 reviews)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a 2013 novel by the American writer Karen Joy Fowler. The novel won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was also short-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club introduces a middle-class American family that is ordinary in every way but one in this novel that won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. But until Fern’s departure...she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.

In We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler weaves …

3 editions

We are all completely beside ourselves

4 stars

We are all completely beside ourselves tells the story of a peculiar family and their troubles seen through the eyes of the little sister Rosemary, telling us about her family, her brother that went away and her sister that suddenly disappeared, breaking the family in pieces.

Through her eyes and memories we go around time in a messy way, just like we remember ourselves. Bit by bit we uncover an unique family and every chapter brings another surprise. While at first the family looks quite dysfunctional, you begin to realise that the way they act and behave might be quite understandable.

I loved reading this book, every single person in it is quite unique in its own way and lovable.

A Grounded, Complex Look at Intersecting Worlds

5 stars

This was the first book I picked up this year. I think about it all the time, and it's one that I expect I shall revisit. There's a lot going on here: individual and familial conflict and splintering in loss; some of the potential effects of choosing an active, militant, radical, underground life; the close, easy bonds between people and the "natural" world we inhabit, and the ways that these are distorted and ruptured by contemporary social structures; and on.

I think that any radical—especially those interested in animal liberation—should pick this up, at the very least for the lens it offers. But I also think that those who aren't radical will find insights here to hold on to—and may come to understand some pieces of what move the rest of us.