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We are all completely beside ourselves

We are all completely beside ourselves

Fowler, Karen Joy, author

Rosemary's young, just at college, and she's decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourselves. 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's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. So now she's telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it's a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice

Hardback, Book. English. General.
Published London: Serpent's Tail, 2014

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Statement of responsibility: Karen Joy Fowler
ISBN: 1846689651, 9781846689659
Physical Description: 320 pages ; 22 cm

Author note

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves is a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Awards.


A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get
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||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
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||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||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||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
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||Intelligent and forces the reader to question what we owe our fellow creatures||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.
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||If you're anything like me, you'll finish this novel with tears in your eyes and want to turn right back to the beginning. Wonderful.
DIVA||We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a captivating novel with a twist unlike anything you'll ever have read before, and it will break your heart in two.
Stylist||This smart, funny, moving novel.
Marie Claire||Australian Women's Weekly||Rosemary's voice is honest and believable and utterly compelling. This is a character that makes you stay up all night listening to her telling her story to you; one who feels like a living breathing person who you are sad to say goodbye to at the end... We are all completely beside ourselves is a beautifully written, compelling story of family, love and loyalty that shows us who we are and what makes us human.
Bookmunch||Rosemary's voice hooked me in, making it impossible to put down this thought-provoking, moving and entertaining novel.
Woman & Home||This amazing and sad-yet-witty story begins in the middle and goes back to the start twice - with a huge twist along the way.
Company||Good Housekeeping||Karen Joy Fowler's smart, witty take on what constitutes a family, and the part the individual ingredients play in the whole, is a beautifully skewed look at domestic relationships.
Daily Mail||very good indeed... nothing less than a full-on exploration of what makes human beings human.
Reader's Digest||At heart, a poignant and thought-provoking story about a child's love for her sister.
Image Magazine||Guardian Online||We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a heartbreaker of a novel. It's about memories and the tricks they play on us; the way we revise and repress them, their power and unreliability, their play on the present. It's about the nature of family and love, the arrogance and wonder of humanity and how far we'll go in the quest for knowledge; it's about being different....I found it sizzling with smarts and very funny but at the same time deeply tragic. You'd need to have a hard heart not to feel it shattering as piece by piece Rosemary puts together the events that have defined her life
NZ Herald||There have been many books written about sibling love and rivalry but few, I'm sure, can rend the heart and bore beneath the skin quite like this one... prepare to be charmed and traumatised.
THe Times||Fowler has that ability, present in a great deal of American writers' work, to ease you into a family situation and make you feel as if you'd known every single member personally for years. And it's with such ease that she also asks the important questions, about how and why we love one another, what happens when that love is taken away, and what responsibility we have once we instil and respond to love... an irresistible, if often distressing, read.
Independent on Sunday||There is a deep well of sadness at the core of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, an awareness of the wreckage left by psychologists and animal behaviorists. Yet it's a mark of the intelligence Fowler brings to bear on her subject that this sadness never overwhelms this ferociously smart, woundedly funny and deeply moving novel. For as it eloquently reminds us, we are all mysteries to ourselves, made and unmade by our pasts.
Sydney Morning Herald||A novel that is both one giant moral compass and a harrowing depiction of a family's implosion, the prose of which zings on the pages... deserves to be acclaimed for the right reasons.
Observer||Wholly engrossing tale of an estranged family... Fowler's breezy prose is alive with funny, pointed observations but also dreamily melancholic with the underlying sense of loss, and does full justice to this unique tale... a heart-breaking, heartening read, asking complex, disturbing questions with a witty elegance.
Sunday Express||We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an unsentimental but profoundly compassionate and deeply moral look at what it means to be human and how people treat creatures who are different to them... If ever there was a popular novel - or at least, one that deserves to be - that blends comedy and tragedy, this is it.
Metro||Many a novel has devoted itself to exploring variations of Larkin's lament about what mums and dads do to their kids. But if any other book has done it as exhilaratingly as the achingly funny, deeply serious heart-breaker that is Fowler's 10th novel, and made it ring true for the whole of mankind, I've yet to read it. This is a moral comedy to shout about from the treetops.
The Guardian||A beautifully written, compelling story, peopled with quirky, memorable characters, an engaging and moving tale recounted by a wonderful, original, witty narrator... when I turned the final page, I pined for that quirky voice, shaping how I look at the world. My first impulse was to start right back at page one, to savour the beautiful writing, the witty asides, the lucid prose. The next was to tell everyone I know to read it.
Sunday Independent (Ireland)||Utterly beguiling... combines a precise Austenian sensitivity to emotional nuance with the discomforted perception of a narrator who feels herself an alien... has an unforgettable, tender ferocity.
New Statesman||The novel is weighty, yet written with a lightness of touch that is more effective than any agitprop. It charts a profound philosophic journey, mixing wit with scientific rigour. The result might be Fowler's most important work yet
The Sunday Age, Australia||A thoughtful, well-crafted novel
Sunday Times