We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, 2013.
The book begins in the middle of the story and is told by Rosemary, better known as Rose. It is about her two siblings; Lowell and Fern and herself and their idyllic life or so it seemed to five-years-old Rose on a farm with loving parents and surrounded by people. However when Rose is five-years-old she is sent away to live with her parents for how long she does not know, but after she wanders off alone her father is sent for and she goes home. She falls asleep on the way home in the car. When she wakes up in a bedroom that contains her things, but does not look anything like her own room, in a strange house and Fern is missing. Her father tells her Fern is living on a beautiful farm and for some unfathomable reason she cannot work out her mother is in bed sick and Lowell is angry about something. Shortly after her arrival home Lowell packs and bag and leaves, but no one will talk about it or where he or indeed Fern are or why she cannot visit them. The story then moves 15-years into the future and Rose is now a college student. Lowell, now known as Travers visits her and begins to tell her the story she has never been told before about what happened to Fern and why she couldn’t see her and where Travers has been all those years – but i am not going to tell you!
The novel is part dramatised fact and part fiction and will leave you with plenty to think about. If you are like me, you will come up with every reason as to why Fern went away, but it is not until you are a third of the way through that you begin to suspect and then are told a little bit about Fern. Personally i didn’t work it out until the book told me and it wasn’t any of the things i thought it was. Don’t read around the book, such as the blurb or reviews, but pick it up and start reading, i don’t think you will be disappointed. I found it intriguing and thought provoking.
The Violins of Saint-Jacques by Patrick Leigh Fermor
This is the library book group read and i think it will have surprised some of those reading it. It was originally published in 1953 as a fictional novella. It tells the historical story of the Island of Saint-Jacques which is said to have been vanished into the ocean after a volcano on the island, split the it in two during the Grand Ball. An travel writer meets an elderly female painter on a island and when he asks her about her paintings she tells him the story of the Island of Saint-Jacques.
Fermor was a well know travel writer of the time and write beautiful colourful prose that will put you in the middle of the ball and then the catastrophe that follows. You will see the characters and feel the heat of the party all around you and then the terror of the few who were out at sea, such as the painter, who could only watch as the volcano erupted and very soon all was lost to the sea.
It was only 140 pages in length, but it still took me a while to read it, but it was worth it in the end.