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Episode Discussions > Episode 118: Unreliable Narrators

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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy When you announced a show about unreliable narrators, I thought at once about Wuthering Heights. The first half is sandwiched within the memories of not one, but two unreliable narrators: first Mr. Lockwood, who gets lost in a storm on the moors and blunders into his landlord Mr. Heathcliff's home; then the servant Ellen Dean, who tells Mr. Lockwood about growing up in the Earnshaw household alongside Catherine and the "adopted" city waif Heathcliff. Neither character can be trusted to remember events correctly, and having Mr. Lockwood relate what Ellen Dean has told him makes the story even less believable.


message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew | 11 comments I am rereading 'Moon tiger's by Penelope Lively at the moment. Claudia the heroine is very unreliable and the scenes from two perspectives enhances that feeling. it's an excellent book and I suspect right up Tom's street.


message 3: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Andrew wrote: "I am rereading 'Moon tiger's by Penelope Lively at the moment. Claudia the heroine is very unreliable and the scenes from two perspectives enhances that feeling. it's an excellent book and I suspec..."
Hi Andrew, I thought Moon Tiger was fantastic. Claudia is also an "unlikable" narrator, but that didn't bother me at all.


message 4: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (thomasathogglestock) | 251 comments Good call on Moon Tiger. I thought that was an interesting take on truth and reality.


message 5: by Eric (new)

Eric Anderson (lonesomereader) I agree, Moon Tiger is excellent.

I just read SJ Watson's new novel Second Life whose narrator has interesting levels of self-denial.


message 6: by Karen (new)

Karen (bookertalk) A contemporary example that comes to my mind is Gillespie & I by Jane Harris. It's a clever use of the unreliable narrator technique because the narrator (an elderly spinster who recounts events from years ago) goes to such lengths to make us feel she is the only one who knows the truth and everyone else's account of a child's death can't be relied upon


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (vair) | 1 comments I always think about Lolita when I think about unreliable narrators. I think it's an interesting example, because the author knew his narrator was unreliable, and you get plenty of hints that he is (he mentions having been in insane asylums several times, he talks about lying to his therapists, etc.), but for many years many readers (especially male ones) didn't seem to take him that way. You hear stories from women who read the book in college in the 60s through 80s, and whose professors and classmates believed that Humbert was seduced by Lolita, and trusted the narrator's words. Now most people read the book in a very different way.


message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 92 comments Karen wrote: "A contemporary example that comes to my mind is Gillespie & I by Jane Harris. It's a clever use of the unreliable narrator technique because the narrator (an elderly spinster who recounts events fr..."

I love unreliable narrators! I bought Gillespie and I over a year ago, and I still haven't gotten to it. I guess I should move it up my TBR list!


message 9: by Rob (new)

Rob Cohen | 2 comments I usually like unreliable narrators but I read SJ Bolton's book "Now You See Me" and I got so disgusted with the character when she "revealed" who she was... I felt that the narrator, even though being unreliable, wasn't playing fair. And it also turned me off to any of the sequels in the series because I felt that I could not trust the character enough to want to experience more of her travails.


message 10: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 135 comments The Killing Doll has several POVs. One does seem a bit off but there are so many weird things going on you don't really notice until she does something so shocking you realise just how much of an unreliable narrator she is.


message 11: by Gail (new)

Gail | 17 comments Thanks, Thomas, for ranting about Rebecca for so long. I listened to the audio book and loved it. Reminded me of Age of Innocence.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol (ckubala) | 70 comments I find someone truly unreliable when the narrator sets out to deceive us from the get go. This is the intentional unreliable narrator as opposed to those that are unreliable for other reasons like false memories, illness, personal pov.


message 13: by Annie (new)

Annie | 19 comments Karen wrote: "A contemporary example that comes to my mind is Gillespie & I by Jane Harris. It's a clever use of the unreliable narrator technique because the narrator (an elderly spinster who recounts events fr..."

I loved Gillespie & I! I just finished Harris' earlier book, The Observations, and it's even better. More layers and even more unreliability!


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