Three bothers at a funeral, two in seats, one in a coffin. What secrets did they have? Which ones went to the grave?
Huge thank you to Ellie at Penguin for letting me be a part of this blog tour! If you want to check out any of the other reviews from my fellow blog tour participants see their handles below!
It was clear from the beginning of this novel that the theories about who was in the coffin would fly around my head until the very end. We begin by exploring William's experience of his childhood, teenage escapades and adult life, then Luke, and finally Brian. The timeline for each brother isn't linear so we have to collect scraps of information to form a bigger picture of the novel. There was the realisation that the three brothers did not view joint experiences in the same way, that provided potential narrator deception to throw us off track. Unreliable narrators are one of my favourite *big reveals* and having potentially three separate ones made me so excited.
Varying levels of detail came from each brother and Nugent's ability to manipulate her writing to fit a different persona was incredibly convincing. William came across clearly and with an authoritative (if not, arrogant) aura, but, Luke still came across as a troubled man with a big heart and misguided intentions. These two stood out as the most different of the three and they both had their own voice and read as such. I was also personally amazed by the level of emotion Nugent conveyed through a novel about three men, her ability to create an atmosphere of despair, anger, love, within half a page of narrative blew me away.
'Our Little Cruelties' captures the essence of turbulent family drama beautifully, keeping the reader engaged but without creating a far-fetched fantasy of what we wish would happen. Instead it develops a realistic reaction among three siblings, although, in a not so normal family setting. Flashes of fame in their personal lives just highlighted the dark and emotional turmoil all three brothers went through, the emphasis of this predicted a clear path of destruction laid out before them but the key was figuring out which would end up murdered. Ultimately this felt like an after thought, 90% of the novel is focused on reliving past trauma for each of the brothers, seeing how it effected their future relationships and once it is revealed who is in the coffin it doesn't connect very well to the rest of the story.
That being said it didn't leave me disappointed. This novel was exciting, it portrays the anger you feel at wanting to cave your siblings head in one moment, but, wanting nothing but happiness for them the next. It portrays the heartbreak you feel when you watch those you love succeed, whilst you're left behind. It portrays the lost feeling of being broken and beaten-down by your own mind.
It was wonderful.
PS. if you ever read this, Nic, I'm sorry I purposely bent the spines and dog-eared the pages of your books when we were kids even though you specifically asked me not to.