Book Review: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives a life of enviable privilege and ease with his wife, Alice. Enviable until, one evening after dinner, Oliver attacks Alice so viciously that he beats her into a coma.
Oliver is stunned by his own actions. In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of this astonishing act of savagery, he tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades.
What unfolds is both tragic and monstrous, a story of shame, envy, breath taking deception and masterful manipulation.
Only Oliver knows what he had to do to get the life he craved and to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past finally catches up with him. 
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 231

Unravelling Oliver was a particularly interesting read. Oliver Ryan is a shocking character and I know that I will be thinking about this book for a long time. The opening line of the book immediately grabs you and draws you into the story:
I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.
At this point we don't know Oliver or Alice so you have no idea what has happened or why. The rest of the book explores Oliver's character an why he h
as physically assaulted his wife.
Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, the only character we don't hear from is Alice. I loved this style of narration as it slowly built up a picture of Oliver and the monstrous acts he had committed throughout his life. I didn't feel that I came to any real conclusions about Oliver, he clearly suffered a loveless childhood but I didn't necessarily feel that this warranted his treatment of others, especially Alice.
Liz Nugent tells her story beautifully, it felt like quite a traditional story. She subtly built it up layer by layer; it felt effortless and it was very easy to immerse yourself in the tale.
Unravelling Oliver is an accomplished debut novel, Liz Nugent's writing is beautiful and captivating and I hope there will be more.

Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book to review. 


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one sounds incredibly compelling. I'm not sure it's one for me, but it sounds like it would make a great book for discussion.

Dot said...

Thanks Holly, it would be great for a book group!

Dot said...

Thanks Holly, it would be great for a book group!

Anonymous said...

This does sound interesting Dot. Added to my tbr list. Thank you for sharing xx

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