- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press; 1st Edition edition (August 22, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501167758
- ISBN-13: 978-1501167751
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 324 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unraveling Oliver: A Novel Hardcover – August 22, 2017
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“Outstanding… The tension subtly rises as Oliver’s past unravels, revealing a loveless childhood rooted in religious hypocrisy. Nugent presents a fresh look at a man hiding his violent personality in this intense character study.” (-- Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A clammy and compelling psychological thriller… The eerily detached Ryan is a spectacularly unreliable narrator.” (Seattle Times)
"Truly excellent, beautifully written ... strongly recommended." (Sophie Hannah, New York Times bestselling author)
“Already an award-winning debut in the author’s native Ireland, this will attract fans of domestic suspense… readers will eagerly turn the pages all the way to the shocking conclusion.” (Library Journal)
“Pitch-black and superbly written.” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD)
“Searing, searching, finally scorching. Think Making a Murderer via Patricia Highsmith: an elegant kaleidoscope novel that refines and combines multiple perspectives until its subject is brought into indelible, tragic focus.” (A. J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window)
“'I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’ From that searing opening line, the 'who' and the 'what' of this unnerving psychological thriller are never in doubt.. it’s the 'why' that fascinates as Nugent expertly peels back the layers to reveal the truth.” (PEOPLE)
"A dark secret life is at the center of Nugent's debut novel... Nugent may be used to spending her life behind the scenes. But she'll be in the foreground for the foreseeable future."
"A gripping and powerful read."
(Literary Hub (lithub.com))
"Each year, a small handful of books are selected as “Buzz Books” at the BookExpo of America conference — a sign that a book.. has the makings of a hit. This year, Liz Nugent’s Unraveling Oliver is one of those books."
About the Author
Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theater, and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written critically acclaimed short stories both for children and adults, as well as the novels Unraveling Oliver and Lying in Wait. She lives in Dublin. Visit her at LizNugent.ie or follow her on Twitter at @Lizzienugent.
Top customer reviews
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So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
My Thoughts: From the shocking first pages of Unraveling Oliver: A Novel to the gradually unfolding multi-layered tale brought from alternating narrators, we learn how a monster was created. I could not stop turning the pages.
As much as I felt like hating Oliver, I started to see how his circumstances, starting with the way his father treated him, set him up to become a person who could do the things he did.
Understanding him did not mean liking him or even forgiving him. I felt sad for the people he mistreated, although, in the end, I could also feel some empathy for him.
Could Oliver have risen from his circumstances and created a better life? A more honest life? Definitely others have done so, despite their own horrific beginnings.
Some of the secrets that Oliver learned about himself and his origins contributed to who he became. A final secret at the end of the book, one that would fill in some blanks about his previous lover Laura, shone some light on the mysteries of this man and some moments of unexpected selflessness that were possible from him. A 5 star read for me.
Oliver Ryan is endowed with dark good looks, but he has suffered a harrowing childhood. He was born out of wedlock to a father who works for the Church and regards himself as an icon of moral purity, his only slip-up a seduction by a woman whom he dismisses as “a whore.”
His mother abandons the newborn, leaving him on his father’s doorstep, who acts as if he would rather the child died than raise him. When his father marries, Oliver is sent to a nearby boarding school, where he spends years spying on his old family home from an upper window. Through his binoculars, he discovers that his father has begat another son, a blond-haired golden child who is showered with paternal affection. The boy even attends the same school as Oliver, who is never allowed to reveal their shared parentage.
Oliver constructs a careful façade to hide the damage his childhood has wrought, becoming a best-selling author of children’s books. After a tragic, failed romance, he rebounds by eloping with his illustrator, a woman described by his primary mistress as “way beneath him.” For a boy who grew up wearing tattered clothing and lacking spending money, he now enjoys literary acclaim, fawning acolytes, and a home in which he can hide his secrets.
Years later, suffering from writer’s block, he punches his wife into a coma.
Told from the perspectives of those whom he has hurt, the book attempts to decode Oliver and explain his violence. This book ultimately asks—and answers—the question, “How well can one really know a person?” In the case of Oliver Ryan, it appears one can only know a sliver of the fractured, shattered man.
Yes, Oliver is a horrible person but I do understand how that happened. This is a easy and quick read. I would read another book by this author. I highly recommend this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Just like in “Lying in Wait” (the author’s second novel-which I happened to have read first) Liz Nugent hooks...Read more