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I Saw a Man

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  3,618 ratings  ·  517 reviews
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.

After the sudden loss of his wife, Michael Turner moves to London and quickly develops a close friendship with the Nelson family next door. Josh, Samantha and their two young daughter
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Nan A. Talese (first published March 4th 2014)
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James I think it was more of an overwhelming memory sparked by the smell of the bath products rather than an actual apparition. I didn't buy why the protago…moreI think it was more of an overwhelming memory sparked by the smell of the bath products rather than an actual apparition. I didn't buy why the protagonist would leave, why the husband would suspect him and why he would disappear. (less)

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Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,618 ratings  ·  517 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a $1.99 Kindle special today. I thought it was fascinating..... Easy read --but will play tricks on your thinking!

I'm glad I read it. Odd, great writing ...and a little 'crazy'.

"As far as Caroline was concerned, she'd already decided she wanted Michael. Not just because of what else she wanted in her life, and not because she was attracted to the
subtlety of his humor and his looks, both of which had grown on her gradually, like a
secret she'd been let in on. She'd found these qualities
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book. Oh, this book. The last time I felt my heart this destroyed was after I finished ATONEMENT. Sheers absolutely has the style, voice and story telling chops to stand next to McEwan. As soon as I started I SAW A MAN, I had to finish. I became so invested in the characters and though their stories of loss and regret were at times too painful to witness, the author forces you to soldier on. I'll be recommending this book to all of my literary fiction-reading friends. ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read and quite cleverly written. The main story of what happened when Michael entered the Nelson's home takes more than half the book to be revealed and yet the side story holds our interest and of course we keep reading because we want to know what happens. What is the event that will change all their lives forever? Although not as fast paced as I normally like my thrillers I was hooked and committed to these characters, even the minor ones and wanted to know more. The e ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura

Description: "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."

After the sudden loss of his wife, writer Michael Turner moves to London and develops a close friendship with the Nelsons, who live next door - Josh, Samantha and their two young daughters Lucy and Rachel. The family seem to represent everything Mic
reading is my hustle
Good grief. The tension is bananas in this one. I was definitely an impatient reader. I forced myself (though) to slow down and listen to these complex characters work through their grief. And their guilt.

This is not a light read.
Be prepared for lots of feels.

Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The reviews were glowing and I wanted to read a great story. Unfortunately, I didn't like it. It wasn't a great story. It was a series of unfortunate events that were handled badly and which pretty much culminated in nothing. The writing was good and it was a fast read, but I think I read it as fast as I did just to finish and see how it ended. I can understand why some others liked it, but I just found it depressing and it left me feeling empty. ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary, fiction
This may be the best book I have read thus far in 2015, and I have read some rather wonderful works of literature. I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers is an expertly written work of literary fiction, and if that is not enough, Sheers expertly weaves together the stories and histories of two separate protagonists and the events, which bring them together in this absolutely brilliant book. I happen to enjoy non-linear stories, for some it is a deal breaker, fair warning, Sheers’ writing unfolds through goi ...more
Joseph Reynolds
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is pure awful. I read for 89 pages with increasing levels of eye-rolling. I ended with '...leading Samantha spending a chain of summers and Christmases in Montauk and Vermont.'

The author had five good pages at the beginning: a hook. Then he left that hook dangling. Dangling but with no twitch of narrative or plot. Not even much dialog. Just pages and pages and PAGES of character description. You know the old adage 'Show, don't tell.'? Owen Shears thinks he is above that. All he does is tel
Jessica Jeffers
Nov 27, 2015 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: fiction
Ugh, the scene--twenty pages in--in which the protagonist sleeps with his wife for the first time makes me understand people who choose to stop reading literary white men.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holidaymakers
Shelves: brits

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away.

(Hugh Mearns)

A rock solid, well-crafted, psychologically astute, well-written, gripping page-turner. Perfectly paced. Satisfying.
It starts irresistibly: "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." And after that rhyme in the frontispiece
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

I simply did not feel for the characters and almost dnf-ed at 25% of the book. It was quite boring reading like it were resumes of the characters. And still 'that life changing moment' as we are told in the description hadn't happened, yet. Not at 55% either.
In the end, it all came back to ... nothing.

It was interesting though, how grief can consume someone. Every individual reacts in a different way.
Still, it was not enough for me to take this book to a higher level.
Mary Lins
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
Half-way through, "I Saw a Man", by Owen Sheers, something so awful happens that it hit me like a punch to the gut. I literally (yes, I know the meaning of that word) felt sick to my stomach and had to stop reading for a while. When I picked the novel up the next day to finish, I remained unable shake the feelings that it had aroused in me. I truly felt grief even though I knew I was reading fiction. I am self-aware enough to know that it was because I was projecting on to my own life, but that ...more
Rich Goldblatt
Jul 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Hated this book. Intolerably slow set up and painful plot.
Zsa Zsa
Mostly tedious, got interesting a little in the end
Roger Brunyate
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
A Dubious Moral Equation

Can a death in one circumstance be weighed against another in a totally different one, even if the connection between them is the slimmest? Michael Turner, the protagonist of Owen Sheers' novel, is a writer. A former journalist, he has turned to book-length projects, living with his subjects for months or even years, and then removing himself entirely from their stories, telling them with twenty-twenty vision, but at a far remove, as though through a long-distance lens. U
Zuky the BookBum
Big fat DNF! I went into this book expecting an intense thriller but shut the book half-way through to an intolerably white, middle-class drab fest.

I knew this book wasn’t going to be for me when we get to the 30-page mark and there’s a grotesque, badly written sex scene. I haven’t had the chance to get to know the characters by this point, so why do I want to know how sensational their sex is? It just started on a major downer.

To begin with, other than the bad sex scene, of course,
Joy (joyous reads)
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review, own
Every time I tackle a literary fiction, I'm thrust into an unfamiliar world where no one does the expected. It's surreal, and yet it's as real as it can get. The people behave the way you don't expect them to. The stories more often leave me reeling, and yet, it's exactly how it happens in the real world. This book in particular, had me questioning if I would've done exactly what they did had I been in their situation.

The novel started unassumingly enough. Michael walked into his neighbour's hou
Kasa Cotugno
How is it I've never read anything by this guy before? He writes poetically, with knowledge of what it means to experience war from an insider's viewpoint. Not easy. There are really two protagonists here, both conflicted and flawed and guilt-ridden. What sets this novel apart, is the beauty of its language. "Michael had never been a violent man. The tinder he witnessed fire up and others was an unfamiliar fuel to him. He learned the contours of violence but as an observer only. The way it enter ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Got to 51% when the 'terrible' thing happened. Am so put out that I simply can't go on. It's a shame that such good writing is wasted on a non-story. It seems to me that the author knew he had no story to tell, and so decided to stick in as many tragedies and negative emotions as he could to stir up some emotional involveness in the reader. It doesn't work. Instead of being emotionally involved, I feel abused and disgusted. Don't want to feel like this anymore, so am quitting here and now. ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-group
Book Group read, abandoned with great relief at page 50.
Truly appalling early 'sex scenes', erotic as cold rice pudding, one cliché after another, and verging on the absurd.
The description of Caroline's 'fool's gold' flecked eyes actually had me laughing out loud and not in a good way.
Lisa B.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Caroline Marshall is a foreign correspondent. She gives up traveling when she marries Michael. When a once in a lifetime chance surfaces to interview rebels in Pakistan, she cannot resist the opportunity. She is one of several people killed by an unmanned drone strike. To overcome his grief, Michael moves and end up the neighbor to Josh and Samantha, who have two young daughters. Just as he starts to feel better about the loss of Caroline, he is involved in an incident that results in a
Gianna McMurrey
Jul 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Yes the author tells you early on that something bad happens but the characters are so inane that you really don't care by the time you get to the big reveal. His prose are very descriptive but it's a bit like eating a meal from a health spa, not terribly filling and you won't recall it a week later. Also, the sex scene is very 'meh'. Perhaps he should have read some Philip Roth beforehand. ...more
Christopher Farrell
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
While I really enjoyed the first half of this book, it totally became undone for me at about the halfway point - the main character acts totally out of character and it throws the rest of the story for me. Sheers is a fine author but I feel that this book was a misstep.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers is a very highly recommended novel that features exquisite prose while dealing with love, loss, and secrets.

Grief-stricken Michael Turner has moved back to London after his wife Caroline Marshall, a journalist, is killed in Pakistan. In London he makes friends with neighbors Josh and Samantha Nelson, and their two young daughters, Rachel and Lucy. The comfortable friendship with Josh and Samantha help Micheal through the grieving process. On a Sunday in June an event h
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
It was ok. The reason I didn't give it 2 stars is because there was nothing wrong with the book. All the characters have their issues. The main character especially is haunted by his wife's death and it has a consequence. However I kind of felt things were too slow and drawn out and I can't seem to put the blame on Michael. He was having his own problems at the time and it was beginning to affect him negatively but that in no way makes him responsible for what happened. At least from my per
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
"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."

After the sudden loss of his wife, writer Michael Turner moves to London and develops a close friendship with the Nelsons, who live next door - Josh, Samantha and their two young daughters Lucy and Rachel. The family seem to represent everything Michael fears he may now
Constanze Zietz
From the title and the book summary I expected the story to be different to what I actually read. I had expected more suspense then there was. The content, basically the way of how different people deal with the loss of persons they love, is interesting and is portrayed intensly in some parts of The book. But for me, other parts of the story were described too slow so that I didnt always want to continue reading.
L A i N E Y ~back in a bit~
There is, in the end, a time for everything. This is what Michael told himself in the years afterwards. Sometimes in consolation, more often in regret.”

One of those ‘whiplash’ books -

First half: 4 stars at the least.
Second half: 2 stars at best.
May 30, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a slow simmer psychological thriller. I quickly fell in love with the lyrical language (no surprise the author is also a poet) and the shifting perspectives. The London Heath setting grew richer with every page. I appreciated the complex characters who don’t fall neatly into good vs bad. Ultimately I was a little disappointed in the ending, but maybe because I wanted more of this kind of complexity.
Claire Fuller
I keep falling for the thriller trick. Those reviews on books that I think I won't like, but are so good and from papers / people that I admire that I think there must be something in this book that I'll love, that I missed in all the others. But there wasn't. Just not for me. ...more
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OWEN SHEERS is a poet, author and playwright. His first novel, Resistance, was translated into ten languages and adapted into a film. The Dust Diaries, his Zimbabwean nonfiction narrative, won the Wales Book of the Year Award. His awards for poetry and drama include the Somerset Maugham Award for Skirrid Hill, the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry and Wales Book of the Year Award for Pink Mist, and th ...more

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“Yesterday, upon the stair, I saw a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today, I wish, I wish he’d go away —from a version of “Antigonish” by William Hughes Mearns” 1 likes
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