Sunday, 9 August 2015

#IrishFictionFortnight - Day 14 - "Unravelling Oliver" by Liz Nugent. Signed copy to Giveaway.

Thanks to the author, there is a signed copy of this title to giveaway for #IrishFictionFortnight.  Just enter via rafflecopter link below.  Good Luck! 

Oliver: Malicous or Misunderstood? 

I was lucky enough to be one of the first reviewers to read Unravelling Oliver, back in February 2014.  I knew by the first page that I was reading something special.  A debut from an author that I knew nothing about, I was mesmorised by the outstanding character of Oliver.  The first line (practically winding the reader) is alongside Daphne de Maurier and Jane Austen as one of my all-time favourite opening lines.  

"I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.  She just lay on the floor holding her jaw.  Silent.  She didn't even seem to be surprised."

As the story unfolds, the reader is treated to the multi-layered world of Oliver and gets a feeling of the man from many different characters perspectives.  However, the varied layers of Oliver, from those who love him, loath him, fear him and despair of him, are no different to the ones you will feel yourself.  As much as you want to hate this man, you can't help but feel for him.  You may judge him, but have a hidden sympathy for his situation.  You may think you understand where he is coming from, then be shocked as more layers unfurl.  One thing is for sure, you will remember Oliver fondly.  As a creation, a character and an enigmatic narcissist.  The author has created one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction.   I have yet to meet someone who has not raved about Unravelling Oliver.  Should you find such a person, send their reasons to me on a postcard, as it will be a rare, collectable item...


What goes on behind closed doors? Is there such thing as a perfect marriage?  Can a couple be equally respectful of each other? What causes a man to hit a woman he loves?  All these questions are ones that crossed my mind when reading this novel.

Oliver Ryan is a successful author, living a comfortable life with his wife, in their perfect house in Dublin.  To the outside world, and even to Oliver and Alice, their marriage seems to be one of contentment.  All that changes in one night.  Oliver beats his wife so badly she ends up comatose. How did this anger overtake him?  What could have happened to have caused such rage?  
The author takes us back to the beginning.  Each chapter features a range of characters, including Oliver, Alice, their neighbours, friends and family.  Each chapter has a thread that connects to another moment in Oliver's life and these threads weave together to create the complete story of his life leading up to the assault on his wife.  Tales of Oliver's childhood are stark, yet by comparison, his friends and the women in his life have all grown up loved and surrounded by family.  A trip to France in his college days is the catalyst for his future self, a man of secrets, lies and deception.  

I read this book over a 24 hour period.  I seriously could not put it down.  The writing is superb, the story is so real that you could almost see the newspaper coverage that would, no doubt ,follow such an event.  Oliver is an unlikable character when you can see into his thoughts and know what he is really about, but on the otherhand, you can see why he would be so attractive to others and have people drawn to him, like a moth to a flame.  A mixture of other amazing characters, woven through the book, lend to it's cleverness.  As a reader, we are sucked in to the world of Oliver, turning the pages with great haste to see why he has hurt Alice so badly.  I can't find any flaws in this novel; perfect protagonist, great supporting characters, (especially in France), and perfectly pitched chapters.  Liz Nugent is a novelist to watch out for.  Her writing is sassy and clever but still has a poetic tone,  well able to hold it's own in the world of modern fiction.  


Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written short stories for children and adults. Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.

Unravelling Oliver is published by Penguin and is available in paperback and ebook format.  


  1. I'm guessing Sinead Moriarty is a Penguin Ireland author

  2. Alison Jameson

  3. Eddie Hobbs

  4. Justin Quinn


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