Book Review: The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe

I have had this book on my TBR for a while now and I wanted to read it for several reasons. It was longlisted for the 9Mobile Prize for Literature and I love the title and the book cover. I was glad to finally find time to read it.

The story is centered around people who suffer from different phobias. The Centre For Improved Living, a government sponsored center advertises for people to sign up for a study to be carried out for people with phobias. Nazma is a young lady who is afraid of driving while Sam is afraid of being robbed. Nazma and Sam with eight other participants are chosen by Ruby who heads the centre to participate in this study. The group attend several seasons where they are required to pair up and this is how Nazma and Sam develop a friendship. As they get to know each other, they are both encouraged to overcome their fears and toy with the idea that maybe there could be the possibility of something more meaningful in their relationship.

This was a very slow read for me. I found the storyline quite flat and it always seemed like it was heading nowhere. I was hoping to learn sometime of worth about South Africa (or Cape town where the book was set) in terms of culture or places to know about but I didn’t get any of that. I read on because I actually liked Nazma and Sam’s characters and was curious to what would become of them but I was highly disappointed the way thing turned out at the end.

On the upside, I learnt about a number of phobias I didn’t know existed like deipnophobia (the fear of dining or diner conversations) or catagelophobia (the fear of being ridiculed) and I think that was my only take-away from reading this book.

This book wasn’t for me at all thus my rating.


Rating: 2 Stars

Published: February 2016 by Penguin Random House

Pages: 248

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary)

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The Author: Jen Thorpe is a writer and researcher with an interest in women’s rights. She writes for a number of online and print publications. She founded the My First Time women’s writing project ( and the first collection of stories from the project was published in 2012.



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