Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unravelling oliver
Published by Penguin Ireland in March 2014.

‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.”


Firstly I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. I admit that I was a little nervous about reading this book due to the subject but I shouldn’t have worried because I found that I was fascinated by it!  There were a couple of distressing moments that were not easy to read but on the whole it was really interesting.

Oliver was not a particularly likeable character but I don’t think he was supposed to be.  There was something about his story that completely drew me in though and I found myself looking forward to reading from his point of view.  His harsh honesty was, at times, refreshing but there was also a sinister edge to it that gave the book an unsettling feeling.

There were other characters involved who were linked to Alice and Oliver in different ways, I enjoyed seeing things from their angle – switching perspectives throughout the book enabled me to build up a clearer picture of their lives together.

A mysterious box became quite a focus point of the storyline for me, I was so intrigued as to what was kept inside and why it caused such drama.  When the answer finally came it wasn’t something that had crossed my mind at all and I liked being surprised in that way.

This was an eye-opening read full of intrigue, a great debut novel!


In her early career Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally.  More recently, Liz has written extensively for radio and television drama including RTÉ’s Fair City.  She has been shortlisted for the prestigious Francis McManus Short Story Award.  She lives with her husband in her native Dublin.  Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.

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