Disappointingly Dull: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We are All Completely Beside OurselvesWe are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary is starting college and doesn’t want anyone to know about her family. As readers we don’t learn the secret about her family until page 77 and then we follow Rosemary in her quest to reconcile her past.

First Impressions: A readable novel. Obviously the reference to page 77 is a hook to keep you reading but I didn’t mind.

Highlights: I liked the secret revealed by Rosemary. It is not what I was expecting and I liked it! I vaguely remembered reading a review a while ago that disclosed the secret but I’m glad I didn’t remember this as the surprise was good. I also liked the reasons given by Rosemary for keeping this secret; it really made sense and I spent a while reflecting on what I had read earlier. So many of the offhand comments made sense!

If I was an editor: I’d be glad to find such an original book but after all the excitement of the revelation it just felt so dull. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly interesting nor was I really bothered with Rosemary’s journey. Most of the second half of the novel was a discussion on scientific ethics and Rosemary working through her issues just wasn’t engaging. There was so much potential for this subject matter. Where was the feeling and intrigue?

Overall: Really? Shortlisted for the Booker? Richard Flanagan’s in with a great chance.

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves: 3 stars


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8 thoughts on “Disappointingly Dull: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  1. I read a review which disclosed the “twist” too; I’m glad I did as I knew then I’d hate this book. “Quirky” premises are so not my thing – they seem to be popular in American novels especially, although I’m not sure of this author’s background.

    • Surprisingly it really doesn’t feel that quirky when you are reading it, it’s just a dull story that had heaps of potential! However, i am sure that for most people like you the ‘quirky twist’ (as most refer to it), the dreary plot and dull characters are three definitive strikes!

  2. Oh dear! This is not the first less-than-impressed review I’ve read so may be giving this one a miss. In terms of the Booker it’s got to be a Richard Flanagan win for me- nothing else on the shortlist comes close….

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