We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  • by Karen Joy Fowler
  • Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy
  • 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times-best-selling author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."
Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she's managed to block a lot of memories. She's smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, "Rosemary" truly is for remembrance.

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What the Critics Say



10 Best Audiobooks of 2013 (Salon)"It's a story that requires a true performance from Cassidy, as Rosemary approaches and then shies away from the truth about her past. Cassidy makes the withholding of this information seem integral to the character rather than just a storytelling technique. A classic example of how a gifted narrator can enrich the audio version of a novel." (Laura Miller, Salon)
“Cassidy's performance offers an electric combination of understatement and highly charged emotions.” (AudioFile)
"You may find yourself on a beach or by a pool or just with some surplus time . . . Use it to read this goddamn book.” (Gawker)
"A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get . . . [Its] fresh diction and madcap plot bend the tone toward comedy, but it never mislays its solemn raison d’être. Monkeyshines aside, this is a story of Everyfamily in which loss engraves relationships, truth is a soulful stalker and coming-of-age means facing down the mirror, recognizing the shape-shifting notion of self." (New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

This was totally worth the credit.

The title, "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," sums the book up perfectly. This story is about a family being broken apart in the most unusual way. The story is narrated by Rosemary, and her view of how this tragedy affected herself and the other members of the family. Fowler is able to write this story as if the story had happened to her, as if she were Rosemary. I checked more than once to make sure that this wasn't a memoir because she made it seem so believable from the 1st person narrative. I don't want to reveal much more of the story because I think it might be more enjoyable the less the reader knows about it to begin with. This is a beautiful and sad story, one that pulled at my heartstrings. The book does start off in a strange place, in the middle of the story, but don't let that put you off because it doesn't take long for her to go back to the beginning of all that happened. I also really appreciated the ending. Book endings can be funny business sometimes and I feel that this one was just about right. This story resonated with me and is one of my better reads/listens of the year. I would have no problem recommending it to anyone.
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- Amber

Impressive

Not familiar with Karen Joy Fowler, I found the beginning to be unimpressive. There was something off about the central character and I couldn’t figure out what. It seemed unrealistic. Then when the narrator begins telling the missing parts from her early life I realized that the beginning was a brilliant portrait.

The narrator of the book, Rosemarie, starts her book with the middle of her tale, then braids back and forth, threading episodes in her earlier years and later years. She explains each shift to the reader in a chatty conversational tone.

In a way the structure echoes the complexity of the story. It is both beautifully crafted and provocative. This is a story that is not about an ordinary family, yet it is about commonality.
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- Polyhymnia

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-30-2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio