Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Beside Myself – Ann Morgan

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction

I’ll be completely honest that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the synopsis of this book which was kindly sent to me by the publishers Bloomsbury. It mentions literary thriller, but that could cover a multitude of sins, the key word psychological complex and but the word that really caught my attention was twins!

I opened the book and the style of the language gave me some insight into the literary part of the marketing. The voice is that of a young girl, something I’m not too keen on, but then not too many pages in while not thrilled I became involved in the story of the six year old identical twins who swapped names and by default roles. Ellie who became Helen was no longer the naughty twin, but the new Ellie’s frustration at being cast in the role soon meant that she took on the characteristics of it. The new Helen refused to swap back and their mother, neighbours and teachers refused to believe that it had ever happened and at times Ellie began to wonder whether she’d imagined it, maybe she was Ellie after all. Her distress is only compounded by the new Helen’s success, in comparison she is outgoing, sweet-natured and popular.

The tale is told partly in the present, 2013 while the other part follows the new Ellie from the day of the swap as she grew and lived the life seemingly prescribed to her by her name through the next twenty-five years. We watch from afar as Helen grows from a popular, well-liked young girl, while Ellie becomes more awkward and prone to risky behaviour. This is one harrowing tale, not so much because of overt violence or anything of that ilk, although Ellie finds herself in some horrible situations, but the unravelling of a mind unsettling and distressing.

What this book isn’t is a thriller in the normal sense of the word, that said I did want to know how life would work out for Ellie given the complex difficulties she faced so we follow her through some awful times as life goes from one disaster to another. Be warned there is very little uplifting about this story as it soon becomes clear that the family has other secrets hidden in plain sight so that the reader comes to realise them before Ellie herself. But this book isn’t about solving the mystery for Ellie, it is about watching her coming to certain realisations herself through the highs and the lows. While the ending is more positive than the rest of the book, there are still enough questions about what might happen next to keep you wondering.

Beside Myself
will be published on 14 January 2015 and I’d like to thank the publishers for allowing me to read a copy of this book.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

42 thoughts on “Beside Myself – Ann Morgan

  1. Yes, I think it is not quite right to market it as a thriller, as the mystery or suspense element are not the main factors in the story. But it is very sad and says so much about ‘labelling’ children, doesn’t it?


  2. The situations presented in this book freak me out a little, as I try to imagine how surreal it must be, when you are not sure of who you really are, and if you have imagined everything you thought was true. Definitely one to add to my list!


  3. The twin angle was interesting. My father was a twin and so I’ve seen that dynamic in action, very close up. That being said, I’m still a little on the fence about this one. Since I don’t currently have a copy, I’ll keep it in mind, but not rush to find it.


  4. This sounds a very interesting premise, Cleo. And the idea of twins taking on each other’s roles is interesting in and of itself. I can see why you were drawn in enough to want to know what happens next.


  5. I love a ‘twin’ book. I had twin great aunts who were rather terrifying women but great fun. However much my mother scrubbed us up before they came they would usually find something to criticize, usually our hair!


  6. I’ve nearly finished this book (about 80% of the way through – will be finishing it today) and I’m relieved that the ending is a bit brighter than the rest of the book. I liked the concept of twins swapping places but agree that the term thriller is misleading for this particular book as it mainly focuses on identity and the serious effects of mental illness.


  7. I’ve got this one to read, and I don’t know if I’ll really enjoy it – nevertheless I will give it a bash. I don’t think I’d like to be a twin – I’ve no idea why; perhaps it’s the creepy role they’re given in horror films (The Shining…)


  8. I followed Ann Morgan’s blog for the year that she read a book from every country around the world, in some cases having to get it translated by locals in order to include something from far flung places with little success in getting published in the mainstream. It was an ambitious project and she was so disciplined and inspired in pursuing it. It then became a different kind of book and catapulted her into the book world and she continues to keep us updated on how that project continues to impact her life today. It was fascinating.

    Her novel seems to be garnering a lot of reviews and sounds like it is a good read, although I’m probably more interested in her own literary adventures, as they cross so many cultures and enter so many little known places, in the way I also love do via books. Great review Cleo.


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