Title: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent
Date Added: August 26, 2017
Date Started: January 21, 2021
Date Finished: February 26, 2021
Reading Duration: 16 days
Genre: Fiction, Adult Contemporary, Drama, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
A child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.
If ever there was a story that exemplified the false dichotomy of “martyrs and monsters,” it would be Liz Nugent’s Unraveling Oliver. Though I find it far easier to slide Oliver to the “monster” end of the spectrum, I would be disingenuous to deny him the same courtesy I so readily extend to (arguably) more malevolent actors, because another false dichotomy of “nature vs. nurture” still tells us monsters are not really born; they are made.