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Publisher's Summary

Rosemary's started college, and she's decided not to tell anyone about her family. 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 was something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. You'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.

©2014 Karen Joy Fowler (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but." (Alice Sebold)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

Heart achingly subversive

Nothing could have surprised me more than the experience of listening to this story. Highly suspicious of being bludgeoned into supporting any cause unwittingly, it was nonetheless extraordinarily fine to be pushed into uncomfortable places by the writer on numerous occasions.
Crafting together family dysfunction with wry humour and the inescapable tragedy it engenders in yet another way is a real accomplishment. Being human. What a gift, too often squandered.
The actor 's voice often threatened to make the tone far, far too sombre but on reflection, it seems appropriate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Breathtaking literature

What did you love best about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves?

This is an extraordinary book that deserved to win the Booker - it will stay with you long after its finished - told with humour and wit, and giving insight into how we might be, if we'd been raised only a little differently. A reflection on our place in the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not entirely convinced

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who like to be outraged about how the human race treats anyone who is not human, but don't really do anything other than to be outraged and like Facebook pages of animal cruelty.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Who knows

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Nah

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Naff, boring, disappointing.

Any additional comments?

Naff and boring. Once you find out about the alleged "twist" (which is not really a twist in my opinion) you stop caring about the story altogether. The main character is extremely dull and there's nothing to her. The story might be better if told from the brother's perspective. I just wanted to shout "get over it" to the main character throughout most of the book. Even though the subject of the story is interesting, the author (probably with the narrators help) managed to keep me completely uninterested, to the point that I can't even remember the main characters name, and I probably won't be able to remember the rest of the story by the end of the month.

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Most awful narrator ever!!!

I didn't enjoy this book at all. I didn't find the story at all compelling and the narrator had the most awful intonation, a cracked and scratchy voice that sounded as though she was smiling the whole way through. Inflection at the end of EVERY sentence!!!! Drove me nuts.

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An amazing story with some powerful messages for humanity

I loved this book so much. I was delighted to learn of its strong messages about compassion and empathy for the non-humans of this world who endure so much suffering at the hands of humans. We need more books like this to encourage the people to 'rise up already'.

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  • Overall
  • Mags
  • 01-30-15

Fab story beautifully told

Very thought provoking story I was sad to finish it as I enjoyed it so much I wanted to learn more! Highly recommend!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-23-15

thought provoking

really enjoyed this book would definitrly revommend it. Perhaps initoally hard to get into but well worth hanging on. Good discussion at our book club about the like ability of characters, memory & early development in formative years effects later relationships. Split opionion aboit the ending amongst the group.

enjoy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Adele
  • 01-23-15

A beautifully told , touching story.

I loved it. I could feel the pain of the story teller. My tears flowed and my heart was heavy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Nettlewine
  • 11-03-14

Ignore idea of a 'twist' for more satisfying read

Would you try another book written by Karen Joy Fowler or narrated by Katharine Mangold?

I would; I think Fowler is a very talented writer, but this subject possibly obliges her to write in great slabs of 'reported' events, which tend to nullify some moving writing.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I think the ending goes some way to recovering the previous two-thirds of book. It justifies Fowler's approach, but it doesn't quite rescue it.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Katharine Mangold?

I wouldn't seek her out. The marriage of her somewhat stoner monotone with the psychologically distant and unreliable narrative made for quite a dreary listen. There were quite a lot of mispronunciations too, which may indicate the product was rushed a little.

Did We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to look into how far companies were go in securing the safety and effectiveness of their products. A vexed and emotive area indeed.

Any additional comments?

This book has largely been promoted on its 'twist' on page 77; I strongly recommend you don't see this as a twist, but as a necessity in getting the reader to look at the subject in a particular way, i.e. by dropping their prejudices. That's not a twist, and the book doesn't benefit from looking at it as one.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Reluctant Mermaid
  • 03-17-15

Brilliant story - terrible narrator

A truly original story - informative, observant and heartbreaking.
However, the narrator is terrible. She has a horribly robotic voice with a 'smug' undertone. I would advise READING it. The only reason I persevered with the audio version is because I needed something for the dog walk!
That said, the book itself is wonderful and I would highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 01-16-15

Disappointing

What would have made We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves better?

After an interesting start this story tailed off three quarters of the way through the book.

Has We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves put you off other books in this genre?

Not particularly

Would you be willing to try another one of Katharine Mangold’s performances?

probably not

What character would you cut from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves?

Madame Defarge - I didn't get that bit!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Annie
  • 01-15-15

Kept my attention

Where does We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This probably ranks lower than some of the other books I have listened to. It held my attention and I am glad I chose it, however I finished the book not really caring about anybody in it.

What other book might you compare We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves to, and why?

I wouldn't compare this to another book. It came with a certain amount of hype attached to it which influenced my choice. If you are interested in sibling rivalry then this is for you.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Katharine Mangold?

Probably not. I found her voice slightly depressing but then that could have been the subject matter.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, partly to get it over with.

Any additional comments?

Well written and thought provoking. I pride myself on usually being able to guess what is coming but I was surprised by the twist.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David Farrell
  • 01-14-15

My favourite quotation :

You learn as much from failure as from success, but no one admires you for it . How true is that!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • john
  • 01-04-15

Listen to this now!

Couldn't put this down. Loved it so much. Sorry to have reached the end. Will try some more of her books soon.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • miss
  • 11-30-14

After teh wtist it leaves you cold

Would you try another book written by Karen Joy Fowler or narrated by Katharine Mangold?

Yes

Would you ever listen to anything by Karen Joy Fowler again?

Yes

What does Katharine Mangold bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She brings the characters to life. I have read the book, but she was better than the voice in my head.

Did We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves inspire you to do anything?

Not really, it was a bit too predicatble after the twist.

Any additional comments?

Not my favourite book, but one does feel for all in the book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • kristy
  • 11-29-17

Amazing, comes out of nowhere.

I was so shocked when I first heard the little twist a couple of hours into this book. I expected something much more run of the mill “thriller”. It’s rambling, but never dull story told from a unique perspective, sad and thoughtful. Not depressing though, well suited to complicated times.

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  • John
  • 04-27-17

Great story, was not in love with the narrator

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, enjoyed the story, but the narrator was dry and un-emotional in such an emotional story.

Did Katharine Mangold do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

There was no change in character, just switching between life stages - but entire performance was dry

Did We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves inspire you to do anything?

Inspired more thinking about animal testing and the psychological similarities and differences between humans and (spoilers)

Any additional comments?

Great twist in the story - would prefer to read than listen to this one.

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  • christine
  • 04-16-17

Brilliant story, terrible narrator

Such an original story but I found the narrator so annoying that I bought the actual book and finished it!

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  • Jill
  • 02-13-17

Excellent listen!

Would you listen to We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves again? Why?

Yes. The narrator made me feel that I was part of the story. It was fascinating!

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  • Imogen
  • 01-17-17

exceptional

I couldn't stop once I'd started. Engaging story line & characters, brilliant insights, technical knowledge and history scattered throughout.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-05-17

Completely unexpected

Absolutely not what you might expect, but refreshingly engaging without replying on cliffhangers or cliches
Wonderfully narrated, the voice brought the character to life and really sold the story

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  • karleen
  • 06-15-16

Great narrator and really intriguing story

This is a book you should just pick up and read, don't research anything about it before you start.
If actually be interested to go back and re-listen to the first part of the book after I learnt more information about Rosemary's life.
I found it slightly humorous- I enjoyed the flat stories of her college days. There's still intrigue about some of her family at the end however I think it was ended well.

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  • Jenny
  • 03-26-16

Amazing story

I did love this book., the telling was wonderful once I got a handle on the switch between past and present.
The subject matter was alluring and disturbing and I laughed and cried and felt slightly sick sometimes too.
This book surprised and delighted me.

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  • Katherine R. Day
  • 03-15-16

Worth a listen. :)

I found this hard to get into at first as the narrators voice was monotonous and very little happened at the start BUT stick to it! After the first bit I was then hooked and it was really easily listening and highly enjoyable.

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  • Alex
  • 03-09-16

great book and great reader

I absolutely loved this book! The only reason im taking a star off is because I did feel like I was missing a main story as I read it. But it felt real. and I was able to imagine myself in rosemary's shoes.