Review: ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’

Review of ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

The Oxford Culture Review

Of all the books longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year, the synopsis for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler) was the one that intrigued me the most (followed by Orfeo by Richard Powers and Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake). Told from the perspective of Rosemary Cooke, a woman whose entire childhood formed the basis of a psychological experiment run by her father, the novel follows her life after the disappearance of her sister Fern. True to my initial impression, the book is quite unlike any that I’ve read in a while; this is no standard coming-of-age story or boy-meets-girl romance. Infused with a subtle humour throughout, Beside Ourselves navigates family relationships, feminist issues, and animal rights abuses with equal candour. I doubt it is a novel that will make anyone rethink how they conduct themselves (except perhaps to pay more attention to animal rights campaigning), but…

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