'Wise, provocative and wildly endearing' Guardian
'Readably juicy and surreptitiously smart' Barbara Kingsolver
THE MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER
Rosemary doesn't talk much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother Lowell.
Now at college, Rosemary starts to see she can't go forward without going back to the time when aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.
It was Rosemary's parents who began all of the trouble - isn't it always? But, dear reader, exactly how they did it is a twist you'll have to discover for yourself.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Karen Joy Fowler made waves as one of the first American authors ever nominated for the Man Booker Prize upon clinching a spot on 2014’s shortlist with this raucous novel. Her protagonist, Rosemary Cooke, is a hilarious, messy and completely absorbing narrator, unspooling the story of her broken-up family with snide commentary and riotous asides. As a child, Rose was an incessant talker who was instructed to “start in the middle” of a story. Fowler holds back major revelations about the disappearance of Rose’s siblings—and the role of her pedantic psychology professor father—and enthralls readers with a wildly original family saga.
It's worth the trouble to avoid spoilers, including the ones on the back cover, for Fowler's marvelous new novel; let her introduce the troubled Cooke family before she springs the jaw-dropping surprise at the heart of the story. Youngest daughter Rosemary is a college student acting on dangerous impulses; her first connection with wild-child Harlow lands the two in jail. Rosemary and the FBI are both on the lookout for her brother Lowell, who ran away after their sister Fern vanished. Rosemary won't say right away what it was that left their mother in a crippling depression and their psychology professor father a bitter drunk, but she has good reasons for keeping quiet; what happens to Fern is completely shattering, reshaping the life of every member of the family. In the end, when Rosemary's mother tells her, "I wanted you to have an extraordinary life," it feels like a fairy-tale curse. But Rosemary's experience isn't only heartbreak; it's a fascinating basis for insight into memory, the mind, and human development. Even in her most broken moments, Rosemary knows she knows things that no one else can know about what it means to be a sister, and a human being. Fowler's (The Jane Austen Book Club) great accomplishment is not just that she takes the standard story of a family and makes it larger, but that the new space she's created demands exploration.