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February 06
Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent.​​​​


This is a shocking, riveting and compelling first novel by Liz Nugent. The story opens with an act of violence that has you stunned from the first sentence.

Oliver charming, handsome and charismatic lives with Alice his demure wife who illustrates his award-winning children’s novels. One evening after supper he attacks Alice and she remains in a coma.

Little by little, through the other characters, the unravelling of Oliver’s persona begins. I thoroughly enjoyed this process of revelation and found it compelling, as the sides of his personality become visible through other character witnesses.  I must admit I found episodes of his childhood at school very sad and I was starting to feel sympathy for this little lost boy. The reasons for the attack build up and are well embedded in the story that I found I could not read it quickly enough.

Liz Nugent has a very distinct well-formed, unemotional and understated style which makes the action all the more shocking. The other engaging characters, and seamless changes in location make this a very satisfying read and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the summer spent in France in 1973

Unravelling Oliver is original and ambitious as Nugent explores sensitivities like sex and homosexuality in Ireland, treatment of the mentally ill, violence against women and the French-Jewish experience during World War ll.

Returning to Oliver we can see his path through life born in difficult circumstances and neglected for most of his childhood and feel sympathy, but as soon as this emotion creeps in, you are immediately faced with yet more evidence of sociopathic behaviour and utter selfishness.


Submitted by Paula.


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