Originally published: 21 January 2021 (Paperback)
Author: Liz Nugent
Published by: Viking Books
Genre: Psychological Mystery
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 4-9 January 2021
Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.
Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women …They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.
But which brother killed him?
I have wanted to read Liz Nugent for so long as I’ve heard such great things and when I was offered Our Little Cruelties to review for the blog tour, I jumped at the chance!
Our Little Cruelties starts with a funeral – out of the three Drumm brothers, one is dead and we know from the beginning that these brothers are not from a loving family. The story is told from the perspective of each brother, one at a time.
William Drumm is the first we hear from – he is the eldest of the Drumm brothers, adored by their mother, a famous showband singer and actress, past her prime. He has his own successful film production company and is married to Susan with a daughter Daisy. He is frequently unfaithful, treats women appallingly, sees himself as entitled and frequently belittles his brothers.
Youngest brother Luke is next to tell us his story. From a very young age, he is aware he is loved the least by their mother for reasons he doesn’t understand. He is a disturbed child, finding comfort in religion but as he moves into his adolescent years, discovers a talent for singing and performing and is in a successful band, enabling him to earn the money he needs for his drug and alcohol addition. Plagued by mental health problems from his childhood, Luke is seen as a failure and a liability despite his success and fame and frequently feels like he doesn’t belong to the family.
Middle brother Brian is the last we hear from. Largely overlooked by his mother and brothers, he is lacking in confidence in his looks and is frequently bullied by William as a child. Training to be a teacher, he moves to Paris but he runs into trouble and ends up working for Luke in a menial role before taking over the managing of his career, making himself successful by taking advantage of Luke’s mental health to take financial control. He is close to William’s daughter Daisy but often feels inadequate, especially compared to his more successful brothers.
Our Little Cruelties was so addictive! Just the thing to distract me from the frankly horrible news in the world! The way Nugent tells the story is clever – hearing from each brother in turn, the events aren’t told chronologically and we get to hear about the same events from different perspectives. The Drumm family as a whole are pretty awful. The brothers are not at all likeable – William especially is just a nasty piece of work, while Brian just came across as a bit wet and pathetic. I had sympathy for Luke – the way his mother treated him a child was just heart-breaking and his spiral into mental health difficulties and addiction are understandable.
As the book reached its climax, I still had no idea which brother was in the coffin or how he got there! This was an enjoyable and clever read, looking at sibling rivalry, which kept me hooked from start to finish. Brilliant!
Thank you to Ellie at Penguin for my gifted copy for review as part of the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out these other awesome bloggers!
About the author:
Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.
Unravelling Oliver was published in 2014, hit the number 1 spot for several weeks and won Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.
Lying in Wait, published in 2016, went straight to number 1 and was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club. It won the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listeners Choice Award at the Irish Book Awards.
In October 2017, Liz won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award in Literature.
Skin Deep was published in 2018. It also went straight to number 1 in the bestsellers charts and scooped two awards at the An Post Irish Book Awards in Nov ’18: Crime Novel of the Year AND the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listener’s Choice Award.