When Rosemary Cooke was growing up she had a sister called Fern and a brother called Lowell, now she has neither. After Fern disappeared Lowell left at the first chance he got. They are a family shaped forever by the trauma of Fern’s mysterious disappearance.
The novel starts in the middle of the story, when Rosemary is a 20-something college student. Once a non-stop talker as a child Rosemary now appears solitary and silent. She no longer talks to her father, or anyone else for that matter. However as readers we have the great gift of being inside her head- her sharp, charming, wonderful thing of a brain.
Rosemary is probably one of my favourite literary characters by far- intelligent, witty, kind and perhaps a bit wacky, she’s the sort of friend I’d want to have. Although entertaining as a narrator, Rosemary may not be the most reliable. Our memories from childhood can become warped with time, and Rosemary often wonders whether this is a real or imagined past.
“We are all completely beside ourselves” is the story of an extraordinary family, but a family none the less. Families can at times be our worst enemies and the best of friends. They are the ones who hurt us the most and are there to pick us up when we fall.
To me this book isn’t about how different the Cooke’s are but about how ordinary. It’s about how we treat the ones we love most of all and how loss shapes us. It questions what it means to be human. Somehow out of all this trauma, Fowler manages to write a novel that is full of beauty and wit. I couldn’t put it down. I dare you not to fall in love with this book.
P.S. Check out page 77. It will blow your mind.