When I Was Otherwise

When I Was OtherwiseA Black Comedy With An Outrageous Heroine As Well As A Vivid Evocation Of Life In Old Age This Skillfully Wrought Examination Of Character And Relationships Opens With Macabre Impact, As A Bland Newspaper Report Describes The Discovery Of Two Dead Women One Of Them A Skeleton In A North London House The Women Are Revealed To Be The Sister And Sister In Law Of The Man Who Shared The House The Story Of These Characters Lives Is Told Through A Blend Of Powerful Characterization And Social Satire, And Summons The Mingled Tragedy And Humor Of Old Age To Powerful Effect The Author Teases The Reader Toward The Known And Awful Ending By Cutting Backward And Forward In Time, And Gradually Constructing The Complex Pattern Of Feelings And Events That Define Even The Most Mundane Seeming Lives He Plays A Similar And Equally Skillful Game With Our Perceptions Of And Judgements On The Characters, Creating Believable, Fallible, And Ultimately Highly Engaging Individuals. When I Was Otherwise by Stephen Benatar was one of my odd little pickups I was attracted to it because of how it had been written, inspired by a small article in the Guardian newspaper, the story is a fictional answer to how did that happen The book starts with that article, police have broken into a house after fears of neglect to find the rotting remains of an old woman who had been dead for over a year, the recent remains of another old woman and a befuddled old man They were related, the old man and the recently deceased woman were brother and sister, and the woman who had been dead longer was their sister in law.The book then takes us to the day they moved in together and the party they had to celebrate that move As the characters reminisce we are taken back to other times the characters had met up and then the book takes us away, drifting back and forward in time, telling parts of their story as we go It s like a web or a tapestry, most of it told through conversations and often over food and drink In particular we follow Daisy, the sister in law and she is a fascinating character.Through snippets scattered throughout the text we learn that she grew up in a family she hated for being too strait laced, became a nurse at the front in WWI, married a man with TB who onlu lasted a couple o
An intimate setting , a warm house in lonely London inhabited by 3 seniors, I hardly thought that one of the characters I can most relate to in literature would be an acerbic, curmudgeonly 85 year old woman.The narrative point of view 3 old people remembering their lives as they end, is poignant and eternally sad The opposite of a Bildungsroman where hope and ambition and opportunity loom at every corner and even loss has a larger meaning with the 3 dying tenants of the decaying house, their is no such redemption, only sadness What could have been, and ever dawning torschlusspanik, ever receding possibility they will never go to Vienna.But the lives they have lived have In their own way, been rich.The relation between the 3 which evolves in flashback some would consider reminiscent of the age of innocence by Edith Wharton, new land archer and the outcast Olen
I think this will bear a second read, I was often distracted while I read it and there is a lot going on in the conversations between the characters Or maybe some of those bits were too long and boring Not sure yet.What struck me was the characterisation I thought that was rather genius He seems to have a way of capturing the mundane with gritty realism Rather Mike Leigh actually This would have made a good film I found some of the less attractive elements of myself in those characters and I hope that s a psychologically generic experience of such good reading rather than something peculiar to me The other great achievement of this novel was, I think, in how it really does get you by the chin and thrust you up against the likely issues that old age will bring You might find you have to move in with others when you d rather not You might find you have to tolerate your dwelling rather than control it Limbs, speech and mind will fail you just when you needed them most to make a point, answer a verbal attack, justify yourself
Isn t it fantastic when you stumble across a book, by an author you never heard of, which turns out to be an unjustly neglected gem Unfortunately, this isn t one of those books.It wasn t awful, I don t suppose But unless somebody changed the definition of a classic while I wasn t looking, I ve been hoodwinked Damn you, Capuchin Classics, for the hours you have cost me and for the 1.49 I spent in that charity shop At least it was for a good cause.The writing was of a decent standard, but I found the over reliance on dialogue some of it quite repetitive, and not wholly convincing a little off putting This probably wouldn t have been quite so bad if the character of Daisy had been a bit easier to tolerate but God, she grated on the nerves.That may make me sound unfeeling, I know I am honestly an empathetic soul Daisy, however, could test the patience of a saint.Above all, I think what disappointed me most was that I expected some
Told largely through dialogue, but also graced by passages of quietly witty narration, this book unfolds the stories of three main characters Dan unassuming, straightforward, kind hearted, but naive Marsha who clumsily attempts the roles of coquette and model wife with equal, tragi comic results and Daisy, whose witty, waspish, overwhelming character is belied by a failure to construct an emotionally or practically rewarding life The novel both teases and involves the reader as it makes chronological jumps to unravel the twisted skein of relationships between the three protagonists, making the book an engaging puzzle as well as a compelling read.Benatar s gift for credible dialogue is astonishing, and he is able to bring to life and develop characters very powerfully in this way, creating scenes and atmospheres which encompass many moods, from the dark and bleak to the joyful The book
A strange book which I found difficult to get on with, particularly at first Disjointed scenes of the present, sudden flashbacks to the past make it a demanding read It has a very good feel for the 1930s.Marsha and Dan are brother and sister and spend their last few years living together along with Daisy, their sister in law Marsha and Daisy are found dead, the latter for up to a year.The book is really concerned with events leading up to the dea
I really wanted to enjoy this book having met the author and found him to be a very charming and friendly man However I found the pace was too slow and nothing really happened and the language just didn t quite ring true, but there again it was set before my time with cha
Love Daisy She is so life ruiningly awful Drenched in ink black humor, really funny, but also sad and smart about how deforming it is to have no friendships with other women. OMG I met the author and he signed the copy for me But i only bought it because he was watching me I ve read part one, and its soooo boring.Not my type of book

[Ebook] ➠ When I Was Otherwise ➦ Stephen Benatar – Oaklandjobs.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 300 pages
  • When I Was Otherwise
  • Stephen Benatar
  • English
  • 22 January 2018
  • 9781907429101