Unraveling Oliver, by Liz Nugent is a story about a man named Oliver and how his life led to him nearly beating his wife to death. Oliver is the best selling author of a series of children's books and his wife Alice is the illustrator of those books. The story starts with Oliver explaining the night he viciously attacked his wife, Alice, in his words, she "had finally brought out the worst in me." It shows how it happened because Alice had discovered something about Oliver. Something he never wanted anyone to know.
Every chapter is from the perspective of someone who knew Oliver. Everyone's story is linked with Oliver's as they try to find the truth as to why he would turn on Alice in such a brutal way.
The story is set between Ireland and Bordeaux, France. Old friends, lovers, rivals, employers, and family all tell what they knew of Oliver. From their stories, you get the picture of a man who could manipulate and deceive to get what he wanted. It's easy to feel bad for him as a child, suffering neglect to the extreme, but then empathy quickly evaporates as Oliver plays his games with the people around him, oftentimes with devastating results.
Ms. Nugent did a wonderful job showing the subtlety of Oliver's manipulation. She was spot on with how someone like Oliver spreads his toxicity through everyone around him, with hardly anyone noticing until it's too late.
Anyone interested in the inner machinations of someone who can suddenly beat someone practically to death will like this book. It shows through testimonies of other's, and Oliver himself, how someone can become unhinged in the blink of an eye.