Rating: 4.5/5 Bookworms
Short and Sweet Summary: A community is shocked when an affluent author beats his wife until she is comatose and one question rises above the rest: why?
Apparently, I have been harboring bitterness, resentment, and frustration since my childhood. Now, there’s a surprise. What will the neighbors think? What will anybody think? I really couldn’t care less.
Told in multiple perspectives, this book starts with a bang and keeps people desperate for more. We first meet Oliver when he first hits his wife after she confronts him with something that he has been hiding for decades, what we don’t know. He guards his secrets closely and we don’t find out who he really is and what his secrets are until the very end.
Oliver was one of those confident types of guys, in a proper posh linen suit, smoking a French cigarette, tanned and good-looking. He looked like a film star with his dark eyes and his suit.
We get to know Oliver bit by bit throughout the entire book. We learn bits of his personality and character from multiple perspectives: former lovers, childhood friends, mistresses, himself, etc. This book follows the mystery of what is inside Oliver’s secret box. He won’t tell anyone what’s inside and he guards it fiercely thus why he attacked his wife and left her comatose. The title of this book, UNRAVELING OLIVER, is so apt because the reader slowly unravels who Oliver is and what motivates him. I was hungry for more and I just had to know what was in the damn box!
I stayed in their homes and met their families and got more insight into how the other half lived. I desperately wanted what they had, but there seemed to be no way for me to achieve it. I was jealous of their lifestyle and their lack of anxiety about what lay ahead.
Oliver wanted a better life for himself; abandoned as a child and raised by priests in a boarding school Oliver had nothing to his name. His determination to have a better life pushed him to take advantage and manipulate people. He created situations which were advantageous to him but not so much for anyone else, as a matter of fact he ruined many peoples lives in his pursuit. His circumstances as a child made him selfish and uncaring, he only kept people around if they served a purpose. Despite all of this I don’t think that Oliver is a horrible person, I simply think that he doesn’t know any better. Being raised by priests in an all boys boarding school doesn’t exactly lead to the warmest of upbringings. If there’s no one around to teach you the ways of life and to guide you that part of you simply doesn’t flourish.
It is only because we opened [the school] that we have finally discovered something else that happened in the summer of 1973, a long-kept secret of theft, deceit, and cruel betrayal. Oliver Ryan is a monster.
I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when it was finally revealed what was in the box. It felt a little anti-climatic but I don’t even mind because the journey there was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with a book. Liz Nugent really spoon feeds the reader just enough about Oliver to keep them hooked. With every page I felt myself getting closer and closer to the truth and I just couldn’t stop until I found out what it was. Like a puzzle being put together, Oliver comes to life piece by piece until the whole picture comes into view, taking your breath away.
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, neighbors, 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.
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