Unraveling Oliver

A Novel

Unraveling Oliver

  • 1
“Searing, searching, finally scorching. Think Making a Murderer via Patricia Highsmith: an elegant kaleidoscope novel that refines and combines multiple perspectives until its subject is brought into indelible, tragic focus.” —A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

“Pitch-black and superbly written.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10

“Top-notch grip lit…incredibly brilliant.” —Marian Keyes, New York Times bestselling author

Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.

But why?

The people who know Oliver can only speculate about the reasons behind his brutal act: his empty-headed mistress Moya, vain and petulant; Veronique, the French chatelaine who tragically lost everything the summer she employed him in her vineyard; Alice’s friend Barney, who has nursed an unrequited love for her since childhood; Oliver’s college pal Michael, struggling with voiceless longings that have shamed him for years. What none of them understands is the dark secret that lies behind his immaculate façade.

The revelations that come to light as the layers of Oliver’s past are peeled away are as brutal as his singular act of violence. His decades of careful deception have masked a life irrevocably marked by abandonment, envy, and shame—and as the details of that life are laid bare, Oliver discovers that outrunning his demons is harder than it looks.

With its insight into the mind of a psychopath emerging from the wreckage of his own misbegotten past, Unraveling Oliver is a chilling page-turner, brilliantly crafted and unexpectedly moving, by a stunning new voice in fiction. Liz Nugent "presents a fresh look at a man hiding his violent personality in this intense character study" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). As powerful as Patricia Highsmith’s unforgettable noir classic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Unraveling Oliver will enthrall you from its mesmerizing opening line to its equally shocking last page.
  • Gallery/Scout Press | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501167751 | 
  • August 2017
List Price $26.00 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

This readers group guide for Unraveling Oliver includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book

Introduction

Oliver Ryan, also known as the celebrated children’s book author Vincent Dax, is handsome, charismatic, and successful. Oliver’s stories are an international publishing sensation and illustrated by his devoted wife and professional partner, Alice. Their life together is 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. Oliver’s story unfolds in a psychological study of his mysterious past; the layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Is Oliver a reliable narrator? Do you trust him more or less as a narrator as you learn more about him throughout the novel? Why?

2. Conside see more

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About the Author

Liz Nugent
Photograph by Beta Bajgartova

Liz Nugent

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theater, and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written critically acclaimed short stories both for children and adults, as well as the novels Unraveling Oliver and Lying in Wait. She lives in Dublin. Visit her at LizNugent.ie or follow her on Twitter at @Lizzienugent.

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