We Are Not Ourselves: Matthew Thomas

Available today: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

***3/5 stars

An upwardly mobile Irish girl dreams of a better life, but finds herself in caught in the tragic cycle  of everyday heartbreak in midcentury America.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like epic family sagas…
  • If you’ve got a penchant for a touch of the tragic Irish…
  • and if you’re willing to slow down for prose, this book is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 3/5 overall


This one is not what you’d call a page turner- you don’t exactly yearn to pick it up, though it sneaks up behind you and bashes you on the head with its subtle truths when you do. The title and overall tone are excellent play on Shakespeare’s King Lear- We are not ourselves/When Nature, being oppressed, commands the mind/To suffer with the body. The characters are darkly rich and full, the prose is quietly brilliant.  But it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow– it’s a novel delivered with poise and poetry, but without much joy.

Let Books for Her know what you think!

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