110 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Who Are We, If Not Ourselves?,
This review is from: We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel (Hardcover)
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When a debut book sparks a bidding war on both sides of the Atlantic, the inevitable question is, "Is it worth all the hype?"
The answer, I'm pleased to say, is mostly "yes."
Oh sure, there are some quibbles. The opening 100 pages - the background information that fleshes out the characters - could be edited down a bit. A very minor character appears in the second half of the book and I had to wade through pages to remind myself who she was. Another minor character's part could easily have been written out. And so on.
But in general, this is a page-turning novel that will easily appeal to both literary and mass readers because it's so darn good. The focal character is Eileen Leary - wife, mother, nurse, and striver. Upwardly mobile, she marries Ed, a man who is, in many ways, her opposite: a reliably knowledgeable man who lacked the tolerance for superficial interaction, a scientist and professor. Together, they welcome a son, Connell, who becomes the center of their lives.
But - to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw - men dream and the gods laugh and make other plans. The family is tested in an unforeseen way. Each of them must strive to figure out what's important and what's authentic in a life where the future is shady and the rules have been turned upside-down.
This is a book that poses questions that each of us have mulled over in our minds. How do we claim our own lives and live by our own inner radar...as opposed to what we THINK we want? What makes a life worth livable? How do we survive when the odds are long? What endures when little else remains?
Matthew Thomas creates an authenticity in this story and breathes life into his characters. Without giving anything away, the epilogue is beautifully written and encapsulates the book's meaning and purpose. My best guess is that We Are Not Ourselves will be leading the best-seller list when autumn comes around.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 13, 2014 3:37:11 PM PDT
Pamela A. Poddany says:
I am on the band wagon for this one. Excellent review, Jill.
In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2014 6:50:46 PM PDT
Thanks, Pam. I see your name on this one!
Posted on May 20, 2014 7:23:25 AM PDT
Mary Lins says:
Totally agree with you, Jill about the editing!
Posted on May 22, 2014 6:06:07 PM PDT
Nice review, Jill. This one looked interesting and then I find your review. Thanks for helping.
In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2014 6:55:05 PM PDT
It was fun being one of the first readers for this one. Hope you enjoy!
Posted on May 31, 2014 1:23:08 AM PDT
Thanks. You have convinced me this is not something I need to wade through.
Posted on Aug 26, 2014 11:15:58 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Just finished - at midnight - and will post a five star review in the morning. Definitely making my top 10 novels of the year. Sparely written - just like I like 'em.
Posted on Dec 30, 2014 10:08:01 AM PST
Marilyn Raisen says:
You are, indeed, a generous reviewer. I just completed this tome and was completely disappointed. It had great promise, but I feel that it required a great more editing.
I am not reviewing it.
Happy & Healthy New Year to you and yours,
Posted on Mar 28, 2015 5:05:47 PM PDT
Patty Baptiste says:
I have just purchased this for my Kindle which makes it almost impossible to "wade through" earlier pages looking for obscure characters. And I know that when I don't connect them to the early part of the book with with later when they become more important to the story, I miss a lot. Could you tell me the character's name? Or maybe just their initials and sex?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2015 7:25:11 AM PDT
Patty, it's been a good year since I read the book and my own memory has gotten a little fuzzy! As I recall, I was referring to the real estate friend of Eileen's.