We are all completely beside ourselves

by Karen Joy Fowler

Not sure why I decided to read this.  I think it was an Amazon recommendation, when I downloaded a couple of other books using Kindle Unlimited (from which I’ve now unsubscribed).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s difficult to review it, though, without giving away a key part of the story which only becomes apparent at around page 77.  Suffice to say that the story revolves around the nature of families and the ethics of scientific research on human and animal subjects.  The family in the centre of the story is unusual, and the characters at its centre and even those on the periphery are drawn clearly and with sympathy. Even the slightly crazy – and apparently unprincipled – Harlow is depicted as a young woman from a caring family who is perhaps just a little excitable.

I had imagined that the author was a young woman, and was surprised to read that she is in her early sixties.  Maybe this is not so surprising, after all.  Rosemary’s story deliberately starts in the middle, and jumps around, though this is all key to the unfolding story and is in no way confusing or indeed unnecessary.  Though most of the action takes place when Rosemary is a student, there are episodes from her childhood and a brief glimpse, at the end, of her life as an adult in her 40s.

I won’t say any more.  Definitely 8/10 for this book.