Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unravelling Oliver


“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

From the opening sentence, the scene is set. Oliver Ryan has hit his wife, Alice, before. On this occasion Alice has been left in coma.

What sort of a man would psychically abuse his wife? This question is at the heart of Unravelling Oliver. As we delve deeper into the life of Oliver Ryan we realise this isn’t an easy question to answer. But then it isn’t in real life either. How many times have we heard variations on “man of good character” when it comes to violence against women?

Told from multiple points of view the story makes us question everything that Oliver has shared and the manner in which he has shared it. Even while he is sharing it. There’s Oliver, himself, described as a handsome and charismatic success story. We also hear from Barney, Michael, Eugene Stanley, Moya, Philip and Veronique. Their lives have all been affected by Oliver at some point.

For me, there are two voices missing from this book; that of Alice and Oliver’s ex-girlfriend Laura. We hear so much about them, often contradictory things, but we never hear from them which left me a little uneasy. They are the character’s that stayed with me the longest after finishing the novel and I think that’s because there is still so much about them that I don’t know.

Overall, I would recommend Unravelling Oliver. It’s full of twists and turns, Nugent’s writing is gripping and I am looking forward to whatever she has in store for us next.