Friday, October 6, 2017

Unraveling Oliver

Book: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent

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.-Goodreads

Review: "I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her."

Best opening sentence ever? Quite possibly. And yes, I'm quoting this like every other reviewer but this is such an explosive way to start off a book, I can't help myself. 

Oliver and Alice have been married for over 30 years and are a successful writing/illustrating team for a popular children's book series. They seem to have a good life until Oliver snaps one day and beats her into a coma. Now, readers expecting a fast paced thriller will be sorely disappointed. This is not a thriller in any conventional sense. We know who and what, but we don't know why. The book is more of a character study of Oliver, told in alternating narratives of people who knew him at different points in their lives, as well as Oliver himself. 

So why did Oliver do it? Is he a sociopath? Personally, I don't think so.While reading this I kept thinking "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Make no mistake-Oliver is a not a good man.  But Nugent was successful in creating a backstory for him that earned my pity. 

Overall-very interesting read. 

Grade: 4/5

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