I was given this book for my LibraryThing Virago Group Secret Santa last year and have to admit I’d not fancied reading it, though I appreciated being sent it in a lovely and thoughtful box of books. And I did change my mind, even though I knew the big plot twist. And now, because of the big plot twist, which makes it really hard to review, and because I also don’t really want to think that much about it because of the horrible cat bits in it (why did no one warn me when they saw I was going to read it?) so this is going to be a short review.

Karen Joy Fowler – “We are all Completely Beside Ourselves”

(25 December 2017)

I think this must have been Fowler’s break-out book, mustn’t it, when she suddenly upped her game. I’d enjoyed at least one of her novels, “The Jane Austen Book Club” but this really is a masterpiece of research and weaving together of fact and fiction. She makes it clear in the notes at the back of this edition that this book came from a conversation with her daughter and a “what if” question, and it’s equally clear that she approached the topic with humility and respect and did her best by the subject.

It’s an engaging book with an engaging central character / narrator and a good supporting cast. Everything is believable and the shifting time line easy to follow. It’s not all spelled out for you and she nips back and forth, and I have to admit that, distressing as the Unpleasant Incident is, it is essential to the plot, although distressing.

So that’s it, really – I gave it a go, I enjoyed it up to a point I had to do a little skimming and I don’t want to think about the horrible bit (if you’re going to mention that in a comment, no details, please!)

The book next to it was Francis Spufford’s “Golden Hill” which I gave a go at, but I’m really not great with historical fiction and I couldn’t get a foothold on it. So I’ve started reading “How to be a Heroine” by Samantha Ellis (OK, I started this on Friday because it was small enough to slip into the bag I was taking to town) which Meg gave me for Christmas and which is amazing so far, and I’ve also promoted “The Icelandic Adventures of Pike Ward” edited by my friend Katherine Findlay to the next read because I can’t wait, basically.