We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Narrated by: Katharine Mangold
Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (91 ratings)

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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

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 person found this helpful

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This book could change the world.

This book should be a mandatory read in all school and university curriculums. Loved it.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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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  • 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.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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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!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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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 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Falluntilyoufly
  • 11-13-14

Terrible delivery, but reasonably worthwhile book

I was initially deeply dismayed by the narrator's voice and style. It's the worst flat nasal American, almost entirely devoid of inflection. She's reading, rather than bringing it to life. As a result, some of the writing - particularly where a story or characterisation nuance turns on an inflected word - gets flattened and lost. There's also no attempt to differentiate voices, occasionally leading to some confusion on my part over who was speaking.

But once you get past this (and you do tune it out after a while; maybe it's in keeping with the narrator's age) the book is worthwhile. Not hugely, though... I still don't get why it was Booker-longlisted - it's a sort of B-minus piece, rather than the A* I expect from the Booker longlist. It's inventive, reasonably imaginative, and it has a kind of American college-kid angst bordering on depression that calls to mind Douglas Coupland and J. D. Salinger. And the title is clever - I liked the way it changed its meaning as the story progressed. It begins with a reference to an early episode with the children playing in the snow, 'beside themselves' with delight, but later comes to indicate the way that they are all 'beside themselves' with more negative emotions - rage, in Lowell's case, numbness in Rosemary's.

It's an engaging idea - and for all my criticism, my heart bled for Rosemary, Lowell and Fern, the three central characters - but as a piece of writing, it could have been more thoughtfully delivered. Having Rosemary narrate it from a single temporal point of view - her college career - bypasses the opportunity to narrate earlier memories from an earlier point of view, making her more complex as a character and aligning her more with her 'sister', Fern. This is not a first novel, but it has a lot of first-novel feel about it. For instance, there's too much 'putting in a bit of past history' just immediately before she needs to refer to it in the present, making it seem as if she's not in control of her material - although it's not a complex plot.

15 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alisha
  • 09-22-15

Not what you think!

Interesting, unusual, intriguing.

Well written and well told. This story is out of the ordinary.

Well worth the read!

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Janet
  • 01-10-20

An interesting story but didn't really engage.

A lot of ideas worth exploring but much of the book wasted this opportunity. Jumping around in structure didn't really add to the story for me. The latter half of the book was more rewarding.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Leso59
  • 09-09-19

A very interesting story of a childhood

This book puts a really different perspective on childhood, experiments and our closest ‘cousins’. Loved it

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-11-18

Smart, insightful and an absolute delight!

A beautiful story and analysis of what it means to be human, of family and life. Loved it.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Didee
  • 12-17-17

Dullest voice ever

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

No

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

No

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

Disappointment.

Any additional comments?

I only lasted an hour. The voice is so flat and boring, I couldn't keep going. I might be a good story, who knows.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!