Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” 

When we first meet Oliver, he has just assaulted his wife. It starts with one hit. Then he attacks her so badly she may never recover. 

Following this terrible act, we read accounts from people close to Oliver who are shocked by his behaviour and, from the different perspectives, including Oliver’s own narrative; we piece together the life and times of Oliver Ryan. 

We learn about his childhood, his “gap year” of sorts as a young man, his relationships and his marriage, and his career as a famous children’s author. I loved the alternation between Oliver’s monologues and his acquaintances. 

The differences in characters and all the different perspectives was incredibly interesting. The accounts are not told in chronological order, but the story as a whole is very easy to follow. 

Written by an Irish author, the story itself is mostly set in Ireland, and I enjoyed how much the setting comes across in the way the characters speak and the style of writing. It explores many strong themes; marriage, infidelity, domestic abuse to name but a few, and are well delivered in this absorbing story. 

This novel put me in mind of a darker version of This Charming Man by Marian Keyes. If you agree or disagree with that statement I would love to know your thoughts! 

I didn't like the character of Oliver, even after uncovering the reasoning behind his behaviour, although I guess you’re not really supposed to. His story, which stretches from Ireland, to France, to even further afield, is definitely worth a read. 

Full of psychological suspense, Unravelling Oliver is a fascinating novel that reveals layers upon layers of secrets and lies that unravels as the story progresses and keeps you engaged throughout. I thought that Unravelling Oliver is an insightful accomplishment and is my favourite Irish read of the year so far. 

1 comment:

  1. Would you consider giving a mention to my psychological thriller published last month. It’s called RICCARTON JUNCTION and you can read a synopsis here.
    I am trying to raise awareness for it but to be honest, no-one is very interested in psychological thrillers. At least nothing published in the UK. Misery fiction, agents call it; ‘people want escape from their dreary lives’, I am told. But you recently reviewed a novel called UNRAVELLING OLIVER [Liz Nugent] which covers similar territory to RICCARTON JUNCTION so I am hoping you will be persuaded to give it a go.
    I wrote a second book, published in March, a darker work of psychological fiction, which follows the same characters across the next ten or so years of their lives; through work, love and marriage. It is called TRAIN THAT CARRIED THE GIRL; there is a synopsis here:
    If you like Riccarton, you will like Train. If you don’t, you won’t.