When I Was Otherwise ePUB Ë When I PDF \


When I Was Otherwise [KINDLE] ❂ When I Was Otherwise Author Stephen Benatar – Thomashillier.co.uk A black comedy with an outrageous heroine as well as a vivid evocation of life in old age This skillfully wrought examination of character and relationships opens with macabre impact as a bland newspa A black comedy with an outrageous heroine as well as a vivid evocation of life in old age This skillfully wrought examination of character and relationships opens with macabre impact as a bland newspaper report describes the discovery of two dead women—one of them a skeleton—in a North London house The When I PDF \ women are revealed to be the sister and sister in law of the man who shared the house The story of these characters' lives is told through a blend of powerful characterization and social satire and summons the mingled tragedy and humor of old age to powerful effect The author teases the reader toward the known and awful ending by cutting backward and forward in time and gradually constructing the complex pattern of feelings and events that define even the most mundane seeming lives He plays a similar and eually skillful game with our perceptions of and judgements on the characters creating believable fallible and ultimately highly engaging individuals.

  • Paperback
  • 300 pages
  • When I Was Otherwise
  • Stephen Benatar
  • English
  • 12 November 2014
  • 9781907429101

10 thoughts on “When I Was Otherwise

  1. Adam Stevenson Adam Stevenson says:

    ‘When I Was Otherwise’ by Stephen Benatar was one of my odd little pickups I was attracted to it because of how it had been written inspired by a small article in the Guardian newspaper the story is a fictional answer to ‘how did that happen?’The book starts with that article police have broken into a house after fears of neglect to find the rotting remains of an old woman who had been dead for over a year the recent remains of another old woman and a befuddled old man They were related the old man and the recently deceased woman were brother and sister and the woman who had been dead longer was their sister in lawThe book then takes us to the day they moved in together and the party they had to celebrate that move As the characters reminisce we are taken back to other times the characters had met up and then the book takes us away drifting back and forward in time telling parts of their story as we go It’s like a web or a tapestry most of it told through conversations and often over food and drink In particular we follow Daisy the sister in law and she is a fascinating characterThrough snippets scattered throughout the text we learn that she grew up in a family she hated for being too strait laced became a nurse at the front in WWI married a man with TB who onlu lasted a couple of years carried on nursing in Britain during the Blitz moved into a friend’s house after hers was bombed nursed the friend through her final years and was left the house sold the house and moved into little bedsits before finally moving in with her husbands relatives We find out that she hated her mother in law and has a problem with authority and conformity generally and that she was kept at a distance from much of the familyAs a person she is both scathing and kind manipulative and painfully honest confident and secretly very insecure This insecurity most often shows in her habit of pushing people away with rude jokes her need to be on top and her painful painful passive aggression She is always running down her looks apologising for being a burden and trying to prod people into giving her compliments My favourite was this; “Will somebody tell me please if I’ve received a compliment? It doesn’t happen often and I’d like to know”Daisy also cadges drinks coffee tea sherry whisky anything liuid and carefully rationalises all her selfish acts with selfless reasoning However there is a glimpse of her good sides She does care for those she loves encouraging her husband to stand up to his tyrannical mother and nursing her best friend for years She’s interesting because she is so contradictory but we get the feeling if a few people accepted her she may have turned out much betterDaisy and the sister in law Marsha also have an interesting relationship Scared by her forthrightness the two hadn’t met up much but when Daisy comes to dinner they almost get on What’s Daisy gets on much better with Marsha’s husband Andrew than she does Marsha and Andrew have been married a year or so and although he finds her sweet he is irritated by her sheltered upbringing her naïveté and her painfully obvious ways of being affectionate More intrigued by the prickly Daisy the two meet secretly behind Marsha’s back to have meals and joke about everyone else The relationship never gets physical though and is later broken offWhen they are elderly and move in together Marsha takes the role of nagging mum Dan takes the role of easy going father and Daisy as rebellious teen even though she’s the oldest It would seem the most likely to snap is Daisy but Marsha is not as in control as she seems It is telling that she rates her greatest accomplishment as snipping the end of her husband’s condomsThe brother in law Dan is nice a bit dopey and doesn’t come into the story all that muchI love the way the book is written The conversations are well observed and the characters are full and interesting I also loved how the structure of little snippets back and forth lets the reader accumulate detail I bet it’d be a completely different book on reread Finally I really enjoyed how the main characters of the plot are old people proper old people like the ones that were around when I was little They eat painfully unappetising food have a pot of tea at the ready reminisce about handsome old film stars and constantly break into old songs Like the old people I remember they have war stories and stick to their old ways not adopting new technologies and styles It’s a funny book a grim book and a well told one I really liked it

  2. Iktek Iktek says:

    An intimate setting a warm house in lonely London inhabited by 3 seniors I hardly thought that one of the characters I can most relate to in literature would be an acerbic curmudgeonly 85 year old womanThe narrative point of view 3 old people remembering their lives as they end is poignant and eternally sad The opposite of a Bildungsroman where hope and ambition and opportunity loom at every corner and even loss has a larger meaning with the 3 dying tenants of the decaying house their is no such redemption only sadness What could have been and ever dawning torschlusspanik ever receding possibility they will never go to ViennaBut the lives they have lived have In their own way been richThe relation between the 3 which evolves in flashback some would consider reminiscent of the age of innocence by Edith Wharton new land archer and the outcast Olenska or uncharitably of Becky sharpe Underneath all that polite English civility lies a sharper sting of a thing reminiscent of Somerset Maugham the genteel evil of the razors edge of the painted veil the dog it was that died

  3. Gaz Gaz says:

    Up there with House Mother Normal in terms of geriatric nightmares Barbara seems acutely aware of the absurdity of life consciousness and our social selves

  4. Rj Rj says:

    I think this will bear a second read I was often distracted while I read it and there is a lot going on in the conversations between the characters Or maybe some of those bits were too long and boring? Not sure yetWhat struck me was the characterisation I thought that was rather genius He seems to have a way of capturing the mundane with gritty realism Rather Mike Leigh actually This would have made a good film I found some of the less attractive elements of myself in those characters and I hope that's a psychologically generic experience of such good reading rather than something peculiar to me The other great achievement of this novel was I think in how it really does get you by the chin and thrust you up against the likely issues that old age will bring You might find you have to move in with others when you'd rather not You might find you have to tolerate your dwelling rather than control it Limbs speech and mind will fail you just when you needed them most to make a point answer a verbal attack justify yourselfI only bought this in the first place because the author charmingly approached me in Waterstones I suppose it would have been interesting to talk to him after reading this not before What I would really like to know and I think the publishers are guilty of a henious dis service here is the relationship between the novel and the real life incident mentioned in the blurb foreword and first chapter OK I got it 3 times there was this incident reported in a newspaper And now there is this book What is the missing link? I don't know if the news report simply inspired a complete fiction or if Mr Benatar researched the history of this incident and used real life events and real names IrritatingAnyway what a perceptive writer This is a well crafted thing I would recommend if you're the sort of person who chooses their stories for their human understanding

  5. Christian Christian says:

    Isn't it fantastic when you stumble across a book by an author you never heard of which turns out to be an unjustly neglected gem?Unfortunately this isn't one of those booksIt wasn't awful I don't suppose But unless somebody changed the definition of a classic while I wasn't looking I've been hoodwinked Damn you Capuchin Classics for the hours you have cost me and for the £149 I spent in that charity shop At least it was for a good causeThe writing was of a decent standard but I found the over reliance on dialogue some of it uite repetitive and not wholly convincing a little off putting This probably wouldn't have been uite so bad if the character of Daisy had been a bit easier to tolerate but God she grated on the nervesThat may make me sound unfeeling I know I am honestly an empathetic soul Daisy however could test the patience of a saintAbove all I think what disappointed me most was that I expected some revelatory insights into what it means to grow old That's kind of what the blurb on the back led me to believe anyway Damn you Times Literary Supplement Speaking as someone who for many years has dealt with the elderly and the sick I don't feel that this book had anything particularly interesting to add to that debate

  6. David David says:

    Told largely through dialogue but also graced by passages of uietly witty narration this book unfolds the stories of three main characters Dan unassuming straightforward kind hearted but naive Marsha who clumsily attempts the roles of couette and model wife with eual tragi comic results and Daisy whose witty waspish overwhelming character is belied by a failure to construct an emotionally or practically rewarding life The novel both teases and involves the reader as it makes chronological jumps to unravel the twisted skein of relationships between the three protagonists making the book an engaging puzzle as well as a compelling readBenatar's gift for credible dialogue is astonishing and he is able to bring to life and develop characters very powerfully in this way creating scenes and atmospheres which encompass many moods from the dark and bleak to the joyful The book is forensic in its analysis of the blessings and pitfalls of human life especially where growing old is concerned but wears its author's talents very lightly the style never seeming forced or contrivedFor anyone who revels in the English language being well used and in the moving depiction of characters this is a book not to miss

  7. John Anthony John Anthony says:

    A strange book which I found difficult to get on with particularly at first Disjointed scenes of the present sudden flashbacks to the past make it a demanding read It has a very good feel for the 1930sMarsha and Dan are brother and sister and spend their last few years living together along with Daisy their sister in law Marsha and Daisy are found dead the latter for up to a yearThe book is really concerned with events leading up to the deaths Dark but amusing in parts it is depressingly true to life Marsha and Daisy's reclusive life is sketched in all its psychological horror as though observed through a magnifying glass Who will snap first and why? Within a claustrophobic relationship laced with anger and resentment revenge will follow

  8. Grahambootle Grahambootle says:

    I really wanted to enjoy this book having met the author and found him to be a very charming and friendly man However I found the pace was too slow and nothing really happened and the language just didn't uite ring true but there again it was set before my time with characters that a couple of generations older than me

  9. Pamster Pamster says:

    Love Daisy She is so life ruiningly awful Drenched in ink black humor really funny but also sad and smart about how deforming it is to have no friendships with other women

  10. Rupinder Rupinder says:

    OMG I met the author and he signed the copy for me But i only bought it because he was watching me I've read part one and its soooo boringNot my type of book

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