We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Although I’ve been a member of a book group in Whitley Bay for a couple of years now; during 2015 I’d not made it to many meetings. A mixture of crazy times at work and then no time at all at work meant that before I knew it, we’d arrived at Christmas and I was left with a somewhat guilty feeling of neglect. I vowed that this year I would make an effort to finish the books and attend the meetings – I don’t really have any excuses at the moment!

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February’s book was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. The story follows Rosemary, the narrator, as she works through the story of how her sister disappeared from her life as a child – a story she’s never told before.

This had been on my radar for quite some time, and I was really looking forward to reading it…. so I was a little bit disappointed when I reached the end of the book and couldn’t figure out if I had actually enjoyed it or not. It certainly wasn’t one of those books that ‘grabbed’ me. There is a pretty big twist which crops up at 77 pages in; which I wasn’t expecting at all. It completely threw me off course and upended everything I was expecting from the story.

The book starts in the middle of her story; while Rosemary is an undergraduate at the University of California. A chance encounter (and brief jail stay) with a girl called Harlow leads Rosemary to share her story – or, at least; a version of her story with her. Having told this; Rosemary then admits to the reader that the story is not true – the truth is something she has never told anyone. The story then goes back to her beginning, at 5 years old, to the time when her sister was still in her life; and then finally comes back to present day.

“… I don’t see how to go further forward without going back – back to the end of that story, back to when I returned to my family from my grandparents’ house. 

Which also happens to be the exact moment when the part I know how to tell ends and the part I’ve never told before begins.”

Although the way she jumps between periods of time and memory is a clever vehicle for telling her story; at times I did find myself feeling quite bored with the narrative and a little confused with what was going on. Rosemary’s brother Lowell is woven into the story but not fully explored; which I thought was a bit of a loss and could have added another interesting element to the book. That being said; there are some parts of the book which left a real impression and some quite beautifully written sentences throughout.

The nature of the twist is such that, in order to not give anything away, this review needs to stay fairly generic in detail. What I will say is that the book deals very cleverly with the whole concept of memory: the memories we retain from childhood; the way our mind can warp them, and the impression they can leave on us as adults. It also impresses upon the reader how the drive of money and power pushes industry; held up by science and experiments. The book lays out in fairly graphic detail the lengths that those in power will go to, in order maintain their position.

“An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.”

On reflection; although I didn’t enjoy We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as much as I was expecting (or hoping); when I was pulling my thoughts together to write this review, I found that it deals with a lot more, and makes you question a lot more; than I had originally thought.

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World Book Day 2016

Happy World Book Day!

Today marks a worldwide celebration of books and reading; in over 100 countries around the world. Amazing stuff! In the UK and Ireland; the main aim of World Book Day is to encourage young children to pick up a book and learn how much fun reading is. Across the country; hoards of schoolchildren have been sat in class dressed as Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Mr Twit, The Cat in the Hat and numerous other characters from famous children’s literature.

I thought today would be a good day to look back at the books that I loved as a little girl, and that inspired me while I was growing up and moving on into secondary school. I always had my nose in a book when I was younger. I was probably the one you would have labelled as the ‘loner’ at school – didn’t really have many close friends, very happy to just sit and play and read by myself. Books were my escape and I remember thinking when I was very young that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Now, here I am; all grown up (though not quite an author yet) and these books still leave a strong imprint on my mind. Continue reading World Book Day 2016

Run, Run, Run, As Fast As You Can….

Hello and happy hump day to you all! We’re so nearly at the middle of the week 🙂

Well, I have been somewhat lax in my training diaries of late – the last couple of weeks have been mad! Full of stag do, hen do and wedding prep fun. I had my hen weekend a couple of weekends ago; decamped to a big house in Windermere for lots of food and drink in one of my favourite parts of the world. Couldn’t have asked for more!

Training for the Northumberland Half Marathon (in 4.5 weeks!) is ticking along nicely. While Long Run Sunday was disrupted a bit by the hen do; last weekend saw my longest run since 2014. That in itself is a very scary thing to write – I can’t believe it has been that long!

Having built a base in January, getting used to running again and regaining my fitness; I started injecting some Fartlek training into my runs in February. Generally speaking; I would do a 4 mile loop around the Town Moor with 30s – 1 min – 30s – 1 min – 30s bursts in the middle. Not only do you get to feel like The Flash – at least for a little bit – you can feel the benefits of a Fartlek run pretty much straight away. On Sunday, I went out for what should have been a 7 mile steady training run. However; because it’s been so long since I ran around Jesmond Dene, I managed to get a *little* bit disoriented and ended up adding an extra mile on the end. Whoops! Though, I was a little worried that I might really struggle with that distance; so it’s good to know that I was able to go a little bit further than expected!

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This weekend brings Alnwick Cross Country; the most scenic of all North East Harrier League fixtures (in my humble opinion); followed by 9 miles of Long Run Sunday goodness. Then it’s off to Sunderland for some Mother’s Day food 🙂

Happy running!