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
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
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
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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