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Reviews of I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers

I Saw a Man

by Owen Sheers

I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers X
I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2015, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2016, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Darcie R.J. Abbene
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About this Book

Book Summary

An utterly stunning novel of love, loss, the insidious nature of secrets, and the transformative power of words. I Saw a Man fulfills the promise of Owen Sheers's acclaimed novel, Resistance.

An utterly stunning novel of love, loss, the insidious nature of secrets, and the enduring power of words. I Saw a Man fulfills the promise of Owen Sheers's acclaimed novel, Resistance.

When journalist Caroline Marshall fails to return from assignment in Pakistan, her grief-stricken husband, Michael, leaves their cottage in Wales and returns to London where he quickly develops a friendship with his neighbors, Josh and Samantha Nelson, and their two young daughters. Michael's friendship with the Nelsons marks the beginning of a long healing process, until a terrible accident adds yet more grief, and the burden of a shattering secret, to Michael's life. How will Michael bear this weight as he navigates his persistent doubts on the path to attempted redemption? The answer, revealed with nerve-wracking suspense, is eloquent, resonant, and completely unforgettable.

One

The event that changed all of their lives happened on a Saturday afternoon in June, just minutes after Michael Turner—­thinking the Nelsons' house was empty—­stepped through their back door. Although it was early in the month, London was blistered under a heat wave. All along South Hill Drive windows hung open, the cars parked on either side hot to the touch, their seams ticking in the sun. A morning breeze had ebbed, leaving the sycamores lining the street motionless. The oaks and beeches on the surrounding Heath were also still. The heat wave was only a week old, but already the taller grass beyond the shade of these trees was bleaching blond.

Michael had found the Nelsons' back door unlocked and ajar. Resting his forearm against its frame, he'd leant in to the gap and called out for his neighbours.

"Josh? Samantha?"

There was no reply. The house absorbed his voice without an echo. He looked down at his old pair of deck shoes, their ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Sheers’ writing is beautifully descriptive. He can masterfully paint the room around the reader so that, not only do we feel as if we are standing in it physically, but we also experience a sense of the emotional atmosphere of the room, whether it is the sense of apprehension, fear, discomfort or, conversely, the ease with which characters interact with each other...continued

Full Review (636 words)

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(Reviewed by Darcie R.J. Abbene).

Media Reviews

Mail on Sunday (UK)
[E]xtraordinarily tense and powerful, and beautifully written.

The Daily Mail (UK)
"[A] gripping and stylish thriller ... As the connections between its characters become clear, and they struggle with the ripple effect of their tragic actions, so pressing questions about art and war, culpability and atonement are raised. The manner in which they’re ultimately resolved is bold and satisfying.

The Literary Review (UK)
A powerful moral thriller ... Sheers skilfully drip-feeds the reader his characters' secrets and lies, including a remarkable sequence leading up to the book's central, shocking moment of revelation. I Saw a Man's ending is similarly bravura, elegantly throwing into new light much of what has gone before.

The Observer (UK)
[D]eeply poignant ... A profound meditation on memory and mourning, Sheers’s novel captures the 'unbearably fragile' nature of joy.

The Sunday Times (UK)
[I]mmensely pleasurable ... From the start you feel Sheers knows exactly what he is doing ... This is an exemplary thriller, clever, classy, slick — and always one step ahead of the reader.

The Independent (UK)
Sheers’ thriller is driven as much by subtle ideas as suspense ... [P]sychologically astute ... Sheers writes carefully about careless people and the results present the reader with a reflective window on to self-deception.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. [A] resourceful writer with a sharp eye for both the big picture and the lovely detail, such as 'tiny women lost in monstrous SUVs, their painted nails clutching the steering wheels like the feet of caged birds.

Booklist
By setting the story amid the fall of Lehman Brothers and American drone strikes on the Pakistani border, Sheers indicts not only his characters but also the wider culture for the ways in which we shirk culpability. This is less a thriller than a character-driven exploration of the impact of tragedy on individual lives.

Author Blurb Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
The stately prose and cool omniscience in I Saw A Man provide the perfect cover for the roiling sea of emotions under its surface. One of the book’s great strengths is how difficult it becomes to tell the good guys from the bad as the story progresses ... and the moral landscape grows ever murkier. Settled domesticity gives way to a quietly charged, Dostoyevskian psychic chaos whose outcomes are thrillingly uncertain.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead HeathAfter his wife's death in Owen Sheers novel I Saw a Man, Michael Turner moves from their home in Coed y Bryn in Wales to a flat in London owned by the very friend that informed him of Caroline's death. While he is reluctant to do much of anything after her death, he knows he must inch himself forward and the noncommittal renting of an apartment seems appropriate. Often folks are advised to spend time in nature to heal, and that is a benefit of this particular flat which is located on the edge of Hampstead Heath, an almost 800-acre public park in London.

The Heath and Hampstead Society of London calls the park the "Green lung of London" and wastes no time citing it as the magical inspiration for author C. S. Lewis's The ...

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