Just as the English are obsessed by class, so the Americans are forever analysing families. And what a family to analyse.
In ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves ‘, Rosemary and her seemingly happy family live in 1970’s America. Then, at the age of five, Rosemary’s sister Fern disappears in mysterious circumstances and the family is riven by this devastating act. For the rest of the book Rosemary explores and analyses all the consequences of Fern’s disappearance and the reasons behind it.
The reader accompanies Rosemary on her journey to understanding. And we see that Rosemary certainly has the ‘extraordinary life’ her Mother wanted for her, but was it happy? She seems to grow up examining other people, and herself, as subjects in the experiment of life and always feels ‘other’ or part of the ‘ uncanny valley’ tribe.
The book’s very clever structure means we don’t begin to get explanations till half way through. Unfortunately I had read a review which revealed the central ‘twist’ to the book and I really wish I hadn’t, so I will not spoil it for others by referring to it.
I loved the author’s intriguing and witty style which had the power to make me feel angry, sad, bewildered and horrified yet smile at her acute turns of phrase.(I confess I was originally reluctant to read this book as I hadn’t enjoyed ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’ …but this was tons better in style, content and depth of thought)
Great book, thoroughly recommend it. It makes you think afresh about the human condition.