disciplined partner, Lawrence until the night she finds herself inexplicably In The Post-Birthday World, we get to see Irina lead two very. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. The smallest details of staid coupledom duel it out with a lusty alternate reality that begins when a woman passes up. The Post-Birthday World book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In this eagerly awaited new novel, Lionel Shriver, the O.
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[[pdf download]] the post birthday world a novel ps - the key that unlocks the sales the post birthday world (fic shriver) a playful love triangle story (told in. American children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a secure, settled life in London with her smart, loyal, disciplined partner, Lawrence—until the night. Get Free Read & Download Files The Post Birthday World Lionel Shriver PDF. THE POST BIRTHDAY WORLD LIONEL SHRIVER. Download: The Post Birthday.
Don't let your husband make more money than you. Lesson 2: If you can't decide between two or more men, they're probably both wrong for you. Especially if they're, oh, self-centered assholes. I hated this book from page one. Halfway through I declared it to be one of the worst books I had ever read. I hated the characters, the characters' names, the character's jobs sorry, I still can't distinguish between pool and snooker , the plot, and the prose, which is annoying and littered wi Lesson 1: I hated the characters, the characters' names, the character's jobs sorry, I still can't distinguish between pool and snooker , the plot, and the prose, which is annoying and littered with a multitude of metaphors so bad they made me cringe.
Do you want snooker to seem classy? Then don't compare the position of the red balls to a whore's open legs! Bad dialogue too. The review on the back lauds Shriver's characters. OK, I suppose they could have passed for well-developed if the machinations weren't so obvious. Although I was a bit attached to Lawrence for a while because he reminds me a bit of myself. But while Shriver pushes the equality of the two men, the story seems tipped in Ramsey's favor.
No matter what decision Irina would have made, she would still be the same insecure, boring, racist, self-hating American tool. Which reminds me And yes I normally try to ignore these sort of markers, but here, they appeared to be just as much the property of the characters as of the narrator. I could have put down this book at any time. I wanted to, especially when it started making me feel homicidal as in The Corrections , but frankly, I was hoping for some insight.
And eventually there was, toward the ending. Most of this book is chick lit trying to pass itself off as literary fiction and failing , but the ending is good. It isn't the cop-out I was expecting. And I suppose it did strike a chord within me-- or perhaps force me to think about parts of my own past which I have tried to tuck away.
But I prefer other artistic manifestations of the same basic idea: View all 6 comments. Mar 26, Kelly rated it liked it Recommends it for: Ostensibly the classic chick-lit, romcom, virtuous Victorian type story of the young lady who must choose between prudence, security and morality vs. It is tempting to compare this to Sliding Doors, since the concept is the same.
One she chooses to stay with her safe, stable companion Lawrence, t Ostensibly the classic chick-lit, romcom, virtuous Victorian type story of the young lady who must choose between prudence, security and morality vs. One she chooses to stay with her safe, stable companion Lawrence, the other she chooses to throw caution to the wind and have a stoned, drunk kiss with a famous British snooker player BTW: I freely admit I had no idea what snooker was.
I'm American. But this is done in a much more literary way. It is a chick lit subject with Serious Novel writing. I'm more apt to compare it to an estrogen packed version of Ian McEwan's style of writing than Sliding Doors. There were so many lines in there that just rang so true to me.
I undertook my normally hated practice of underlining things in a book, because I couldn't bear that I didn't remember them later on. That is, until I got too caught up in the story to care. But I'm going to put down a few that I did underline here just to give you an idea of the writing: In the version of the story where she chooses to cheat, the night after: Did she want him to know?
Maybe she was forcing him to play a parlor game, like Botticelli: I'm a famous person, and my name begins with a scarlet A. That they never look at each other. That he see only the blurred profile of her head; that she always stare at the wall.
That she never be permitted to meet those imploring brown eyes and watch them get what they begged for He loved her so much that it was scary, and he would no more look into her eyes while they were fucking than stare into the face of the sun.
Shriver is sure to point out that both endings have their problems, and that there is no black and white. I think it depends on the personality of the reader which life they side with, though the end of the book makes it pretty clear which way she feels. Up until that point, both futures could be equally miserable or equally happy, depending on your point of view in life. I love that the ending is just that, a chosen ending.
The story goes on in both ways, and you can choose which to believe, draw your own morals. It was particularly engrossing for someone like me who second guesses nearly all her decisions and always wonders 'what might have been'.
Problems with the book: Shriver seems to get sidetracked with a number of digressions on subjects that she's apparently interested in but which don't seem to fit in with this book.
She has characters give odd rants that seem out of character, and her words are just a little too fierce. She is especially sanctimonious on the issue of Americans in London or abroad in general. Shriver also clearly has a huge socioeconomic, national, and also British guilt complex. There's a lot in here about what one "should," do, and big causes of the day the book takes place between , largely are mentioned all over the place.
It is partially to make a point, so I'll forgive her that, but nonetheless, she seems to be trying to explore her own guilty feelings and impulses on the page in places that don't really fit. Yes, part of one of the characters Also, I have to admit the quality of the writing was somewhat uneven.
I'd say the majority of it was good, but there were several spots where she left behind perfectly nuanced, lovely explorations for unsubtle metaphors and heavy handed, clunky expressions. Overall, it still worked for me though. I liked it quite a bit. View all 16 comments. Jun 16, Abby rated it it was amazing. I raced through this book because I was so engrossed by the story line s.
I suppose it's chick-lit in the sense that women probably have an easier time relating to the story than men would, but it's so much better than most chick-lit garbage out there I followed this book with a true chick-lit piece of crap and wanted to pull my hair out.
What amazed me about this book is how much is stuck with me after I was done reading it. I kept thinking about the characters and the choices and the outcom I raced through this book because I was so engrossed by the story line s. I kept thinking about the characters and the choices and the outcomes and what it all meant. The characters struck me as very human in their flaws, not just characters in a book, so it made their stories compelling to me.
As I was reading the book, I vaguely remembered the movie "Sliding Doors" and thought about its relevance to this story I only kind of remember the movie, so it wasn't much of a comparison and I think what I like better about the book is that its events unfold based on a choice made by the main character, not a chance occurance beyond her control. It's all about free will and choice and decisions, not random circumstances.
I'm frankly surprised at how many negative reviews there are on here. To each his own, I suppose, but this book reached me at a deeper level than anything I've read in a while. Perhaps I connected with Irina more than other people did.
At the end of this book, I was emotionally "knackered," to use a British phrase that is better at describing how I felt than any Americanism. I didn't mind the length of the book and in fact, was sad when it was done because I wanted to know more.
Overall, I simply got this book. I suppose it's not for everyone, and is perhaps most interesting to people who are in or have been in serious relationships. I just loved how human it felt, how real it felt. Mar 27, Chrissy rated it did not like it Recommends it for: This book utterly bored and irritated me, all at the same time.
The supposed purpose of the book was to show how one seemingly small decision can drastically impact your life, but that your decisions will still result in very similar parallels.
The moral I took from this story was essentially to dump the guy before he dumps you. And that if your life is fated to be miserable, it's going to be miserable no matter what you do. Inspiring, don't you think? The author's obsession with the finer details This book utterly bored and irritated me, all at the same time. Her thesaurus-overuse showed how desperate she was to impress although I'm not sure whom , while her frequent use of British colloquialisms left me wondering what exactly her characters were trying to say.
My "favorite" thing about the book was the protagonist's frequent references to how much she needed a man in her life to take care of her, and she justified this by claiming to be fully aware of how anti-feminist her statements were. Because that made it completely acceptable to state how her purpose in life was to take care of a man and she didn't feel complete whenever her man was away.
My opinion, I can think of a thousand ways to better spend your time than reading this. View 1 comment. Nov 28, Laurie Neighbors rated it it was amazing.
I chuckle each time I skim through the goodreads reviews for Lionel Shriver books -- including this book -- to see goodreads readers giving her the old low-star on account of how depressing and unlikable her characters are, how there's too much detail.
So, yes. It's true. The book is lush. But all of that detail functions as a kind of third plot line in the book -- or a unifyi I chuckle each time I skim through the goodreads reviews for Lionel Shriver books -- including this book -- to see goodreads readers giving her the old low-star on account of how depressing and unlikable her characters are, how there's too much detail.
But all of that detail functions as a kind of third plot line in the book -- or a unifying narrative, I suppose. Admittedly, at first I was afraid that the repetition of small details would serve as just a gimmick or a sad attempt to unify two independent streams. Then, when I saw that the detail was bringing the two stories closer together, I worried a bit that the repetition would be didactic.
But as the novel starts breathing harder and expanding from its central point and coming closer and closer together in the ways that it does , those details became the guide, in a sense, to the complexity of the novel.
And yes, it's true that the book can be quite sad at times. You can hardly complain about that if you got here from any of Shriver's latest other books.
If this was your first Shriver book and you're complaining about the depressing nature of her closely drawn, daily-life characters -- well, I'll give you something to complain about: You got off easy this time. Often, Shriver's books are sad and characters "unlikable" because she won't let go in her examination until she gets to the core of individuals and the circumstances that put their orientations and values in place.
The two-plot character shifts of minor characters in this novel are examples of this -- Irina's mother and sister, for instance. And Jude.
You may not like them, but there is something behind their representation that you should know and apply to your interactions with people in the real world. This is the fourth Lionel Shriver book I've devoured this year, and I'm in awe of her range.
But unlike so many other reviewers on this site, each subsequent book I have read has left me increasingly impressed with Shriver's talent and skill.
And each one is stick-to-your-ribs delicious. Mar 24, Megan rated it really liked it. Like a "Sliding Doors" with class, this book plays out what would happen if a woman stayed with her stable, responsible lover of ten years, and what would happen if she left him for his irresistibly sexy, volatile friend. Since I constantly "Sliding Doors" my own life--how would life be different if I moved to another city?
W Like a "Sliding Doors" with class, this book plays out what would happen if a woman stayed with her stable, responsible lover of ten years, and what would happen if she left him for his irresistibly sexy, volatile friend.
What makes this book so nuanced and compelling is that she doesn't. In each of the lives that the main character chooses, a sizable amount goes wrong. I was riveted to the novel, because the plot had all the twists and turns of real life--if the main character wasn't rewarded for "going with her heart" as is the cliche, neither was she lauded for being faithful to her original man. Each choice has its rewards, but as the novel plays out each life informs the other until you realize at the end that the perfect, ideal "compromise" life you would wish for her is not only unlikely, but impossible.
In the end the book becomes about more than, this man or that, but about the finite possibilities of each life's existence, and the tiny moments of happiness that we must grasp to survive whichever life we choose.
This sounds harsh, but somehow in Lionel Shriver's clear-eyed, sharp, sympathetic hands, it feels strangely comforting. May 24, Bernie rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: I was really blown away by this novel and recommend it to all and sundry. The writing was so smart, and not in an "aren't I clever with pop references?
Not that this is "chick lit" - far from it in depth and scope. Although it was hard to follow the parallel worlds at first, I really got into it and was turning the pages with excitement to see what would come nex Although it was hard to follow the parallel worlds at first, I really got into it and was turning the pages with excitement to see what would come next. I am an avid reader and have read many many books for the past 20 years and am always looking for a new voice. This book really spoke to me about the nature of love, commitment, the pull and mystery of sex.
I loved it and recommend it to any woman, esp. I can see why Lionel Shriver has won awards with her writing. Another treat, for me, was reading about expatriate life in London. For anyone who's lived abroad or experienced the UK - resonates! Aug 07, jillian rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book has a plotline that could have been so cheesy - but comes out so well.
In the first chapter, mild-mannered childrens book author Irina McGovern goes on a birthday dinner with Ramsey Acton, a snooker star in London. Irina's long-term partner, Lawrence, is absent, at a conference in Sarajevo, and Ramsey's recent divorce from his wife, mean that Irina and Ramsey are alone for the first time in their history. They end up at his house, against the snooker table, and Irina either does - or d This book has a plotline that could have been so cheesy - but comes out so well.
They end up at his house, against the snooker table, and Irina either does - or does not - decide to kiss him and commit adultery. The book unfolds from there, with each chapter written in two timelines: What I found so amazing was that the characters in the book were so well defined that they still acted consistently, even in radically different timelines.
That action might involve hypocrisy, as it does for the women in Irina's life that advise her against a relationship with Ramsey in one storyline, and then admire him as a handsome man when there is no consequence to it - but it is all still in character. Some of the dialogue is even the same in both worlds, albeit used in different contexts, to different people, but that just shows how well-developed the characters really are. As an American - albeit one living in London - it affects her differently in each reality.
The same snooker tournaments still take place, but depending on his relationship with Irina - or his ex-wife, Jude - Ramsey wins or loses in a spectacular success or a miserable failure. Irina writes an award nominated children's book in both storylines, which takes from her relationship with the man in her life, but in one it's a commercial success, and in the other world, it isn't.
The book also addresses one of the most important issues for every woman on the planet: Does Irina go for the excitement, drama, thrills and despair of Ramsey, to whom she has an insatiable sexual attraction? Or does she stay with the steady, secure, caring Lawrence?
The decision she makes, and how it reflects on her self-image, the way her decision affects her self-imposed characteristics, is so far-reaching and so well-explored that it opens up both the not only the immediate good and bad aspects of each path, but the far-reaching consequences that ultimately change how Irina sees herself, and the woman that she becomes.
I thought this was a brilliantly written book, which was not only clever and engaging, but very thoughtful as well. This book showed how one decision could unleash so much inside one person as to re-shape their life - and yet bring it full circle.
For, just as the first chapter applies in both storylines, the last chapter could as well.
Post-Birthday World is a bit of a mixed bag. I read the bulk of it in two days and was tearing up towards the end. After I set the book down and my mother asked me how it was, my response was, "It was okay," then I proceeded to tell her, at length, about the story, what I liked and what I didn't like.
The story is set in London, where Irina McGovern has lived in domestic comfort with her partner not husband of 10 years, Lawrence both in their 40s. After starting a tradition of having yearly d Post-Birthday World is a bit of a mixed bag. In the past, Irina found she didn't have much to say to Ramsey and ends up dreading the event, but sets it up, anyhow.
Then - surprise, surprise - on the occasion that the two of them are left alone, they have a fun time together, and Irina finds herself in an eye-lock with Ramsey, questioning whether or not to give in to her all-consuming desire to kiss him. Here, the story splinters, following two plot lines - one that examines what would happen if she kisses him, one that examines what would happen if she doesn't.
It's two age-old debates for the price of one. Firstly, which kind of love is more suited to long-term happiness: And secondly, is there such a thing as fate? Can one action, even a small one, change the course of your life? Just a hundred or so pages in, I found myself annoyed with Irina. I assumed I would like her in some way as the book went on, and I did to some degree - but at the same time, as the story progressed, her tragic flaw became that much more apparent.
What is her tragic flaw? Her lack of any kind of self-interest. She constantly grapples, mentally, with whether or not it's okay for a woman's life goal to be having a solid relationship with a man - but in practice, there isn't much struggle. The fact that she lets the men in her life decide to such a tremendous degree how hers ends up only shows how out of her own hands she allows her life to be.
She says that, ideally, she likes the idea of an independent woman, but when Lawrence is out of town for 10 days, she's despondent.
She's only confident about how she looks when it's acknowledged by a man. There are only a few times when she's ever satisfied when she's alone, and that's when she forces herself to be happy, out of spite, when Lawrence goes to Russia without her, or when she's engrossed in working on her own book something she does all of once during each plot line.
She argues that you can only derive so much satisfaction from a career and even I, in my career-driven ways, can agree with that - but Irina's interest in her own career is passing.
Sure, she reaches the same career mark in both story lines, but everything else is determined by who she's with at the time. Even when she writes her book, does something that should be hers , it's completely influenced by the man in her life.
It's pathetic! It reminded me of the comments I got on a short story I wrote in my fiction class senior year about - oh, you bet - a woman deciding between two men. My professor - also a woman - told me that I didn't include enough of the main character's career, that it was hard to get a strong sense of who the character was if her life and ambitions were consumed by men, and I'd argue the same is true of Post-Birthday World.
She doesn't even really have many friends - she only ever hangs out with two of them, one of whom she stops speaking to, and the other who she sees only once. But even going beyond my tough-girl response to Irina, the book itself had a tragic flaw, which was its tendency to want to fit things in convenient little boxes.
Everything was heavy-handed, from the metaphors to the characters of Lawrence and Ramsey. I more or less knew how the book was going to end even before Shriver basically spells it out for us a little over halfway through. It felt a little too-dumbed down and required a little too much suspension of belief - which is a bit ironic, in a way, considering that Irina's character kept saying that she hated when people dumbed down a book just because it's for children.
This dumbing down is all sort of inter-connected, but for starters, the male characters were not remotely complex. Lawrence, the "responsible" one, was highly intelligent, average looking, thrifty, constantly critical, anti-social and not particularly exciting or fun. Ramsey, the "wild one," is incredibly charming, incredibly handsome, not especially knowledgeable on world events, throws money around, loves to go out, is spontaneous, and a voracious substance user particularly alcohol.
Not once do these characters break out of their stereotypes, even in small ways, until - gasp! I'm not in my 40s, and I'm far from a homebody, but I find it completely hard to believe that even the most homebody couples never go out to movies, go out to concerts, go out to the theater, meet up with friends or go on trips - but Irina and Lawrence seem to leave their house about once a year, otherwise contended with staying in and watching TV.
Likewise, I found it hard to believe that Ramsey, upon returning from months on the road , wanted to go out to dinner every single night. I certainly don't hear about or see sports players out on the town every night during off-season.
In connection to the simplicity of their personalities, I'm assuming to really cement the fact that the men are veritable opposites, the events flip from black to white and the men act as black to white.
For example, when Irina is cheating on Lawrence, he doesn't seem to suspect a thing. Ramsey, on the other hand, thinks Irina is cheating when she isn't.
Where Lawrence didn't want to get married, Ramsey wants to get married right away. When a bowl of sour cream spills at Christmas, Lawrence cleans it up immediately, where Ramsey could care less. Lawrence and Irina are apt to fight when they go out, and Ramsey and Irina are apt to fight when they stay in. I don't know that such a polarizing contrast was needed for the reader to get the idea. In connection to that - and this is where the suspension of belief really comes in - despite the fact that the entire book is, to some degree, an argument that something as simple as a kiss can change the course of your life, Shriver's characters will have the exact same conversation in the different plots.
Oh, sure, the context changes, but you've got to be fucking kidding me! The first time she did it, it didn't irk me, but she does this throughout the entire book, and eventually I was rolling my eyes every time it happened. She didn't limit this to conversations, either, she did it with events - regardless of what choice she makes, someone ends up with a car for Christmas, someone spills sour cream on the rug, someone ends up out in the rain forgetting their coat, someone lets the spices go stale.
It was painful. That's what makes this book so much more tragic to me, because if she hadn't dumbed down the men or the plot, had she made the characters more complex and the story-lines completely different instead of overlapping, it would have been such a phenomenal book. Instead, I got the sense that she simply didn't have much imagination - and this is one of many ways that Shriver is connected to her main character.
Just like Irina couldn't write something more out of her own imagination, Shriver seems unable to, as well. However, she also manages to completely envelop you, to hook the reader, even with one-dimensional characters and a flawed plot.
There's something to be said for novels that make you think about not only the novel, but its relation to your life, that leave you with a lot to say and talk about, and Post-Birthday World is absolutely that kind of book.
It's a book you'll want your friends to read, because one's response says a lot about them, because most people - in either gender - face this kind of decision or this kind of situation, where you wonder what path you should take or what would have happened if you do this instead of that, and because Shriver does, to some degree, leave it up to the reader to decide which story line is "better.
As I mentioned before, part of it even made me cry. Going into this, I didn't consider it chick lit, but having finished it, I don't know that I can classify it as anything but.
And perhaps that starter mindset is responsible for my mixed response to it, perhaps if I had gone into it thinking of it as fluff, I would have been pleasantly surprised instead of a bit disappointed. View all 5 comments. Jun 28, Sarah rated it it was ok Recommended to Sarah by: Like the main character's path branching in two directions, so did my opinion of this book.
Sometimes I was bored, and sometimes I was riveted. Sometimes I thought Irina was whiney and annoying and a pain in the ass, and sometimes I saw bits of myself in her although, granted, those were probably my whiney, annoying, PItA bits. What really bugged me, and what I hoped would resolve itself in the end, was precisely w Like the main character's path branching in two directions, so did my opinion of this book. What really bugged me, and what I hoped would resolve itself in the end, was precisely what the author DIDN'T want resolved.
Irina McGovern's entire future apparently hinges on one decision: From there, two Sliding Doors-esque parallel futures unfold. In one, Irina does kiss him, and leaves her common law husband for him. In the other, Irina does not give into temptation and stands by her man. The problem was, no matter which decision Irina made, she didn't seem happy. When she was with Lawrence her "husband" , she tried to commit herself to the relationship but felt unsettled and unsatisfied sexually.
Lawrence was a class-A asshole who never kissed her and wouldn't even have sex face-to-face. She still harbored lustful thoughts for Ramsey, the other guy, who appeared to be a classy and passionate alternative to the cold Lawrence. In the other future, when she is with Ramsey, he's a histrionic, self-centered, alcoholic prick whose only redeeming quality is that he's dynamite in the sack. Irina spends most of her time with this man fighting with him and wistfully remembering Lawrence, who may not have been as passionate in bed, but in whom she found a more compatible domestic partner.
Lawrence, in this future, never turns into the class-A asshole but instead remains a virtuous, faithful, and supportive friend to Irina in spite of the fact that she cheated on him with and left him for one of his friends. In both futures, Irina believes the grass to be greener on the other side. As it turns out, the author makes it pretty clear that the point she's making with this book is that a person doesn't have only one destiny.
That any decision a person makes on any given day can totally shape their future and send it in a different direction. Although she accomplished that by never really telling the reader whom Irina should have ended up with, in a way she does give Irina only one desitny: Also, in each parallel story line, very similar events would happen but in slightly different ways. It was like the two futures were the same ball game, with the only difference being that in one Irina was playing for the blue team and in the other, for the red.
And speaking of ball games, much of the book involves the game of snooker, as Ramsey is a professional player. Irina a Russian-American ex-patriate living in London often remarks on the fact that Americans don't know or care about snooker, and she was right. There were far too many detailed descriptions of matches that bored me, and that I skimmed over. The book probably could have been a good pages shorter without all that snooker though snooker actually was also a metaphor of sorts.
All that said, I stayed up last night until 2: I still don't know, though, if it was because I was anxious to finish it or anxious to get it over with. Aug 17, Allyson rated it it was amazing. Add Lionel Shriver to that list of authors whose work makes me despair of ever writing anything worth reading. Her vocabulary is nearly as impressive as the way she wields it, making even the smallest of moments feel utterly profound and poignant.
The scope of this novel is somewhat ordinary: Our protagonist, Irina, is a middle-aged woman sleepwalking through a decade-long relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Lawrence, when a surprising moment of chemistry presents her with the choice o Wow.
Our protagonist, Irina, is a middle-aged woman sleepwalking through a decade-long relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Lawrence, when a surprising moment of chemistry presents her with the choice of kissing another man. What happens next is anything but ordinary.
The author divides the novel into alternating chapters that describe the unfolding of parallel futures for Irina and those in her life. On one path, she kisses Ramsey, pursuing first an affair and then a tempestuous relationship with him. On the other path, she resists and returns home, nursing her secret crush only through sexual fantasies. In both, we get to live in Irina's interior world, which Shriver portrays with exquisite detail, fresh metaphors, and brutal honesty.
Both stories for they are practically two novels are at turns exciting, moving, predictable, frustrating, and fascinating. Just as real life is. And I found her point--that oftentimes such a choice is neither right nor wrong, but simply is a fork in the road with the end results unknowable until you're living them--very philosophical and true.
It is in no way central to either story, but as it occurs during the time span of the story it had to be dealt with. Under Shriver's skilled hand, it maintains appropriate weight and seriousness with regard to the impact it has on Irina in both futures without the stories, or our protagonist, becoming insincerely dramatic or skipping over things in an embarrassed rush. I loved the moment she compares a devastating event in her personal life to the fall of the Twin Towers, and the way she immediately feels abashed for doing so This is one I will return to for many examples of a writer doing things right!
Mar 10, Cher rated it liked it Shelves: The author has a way with words and I enjoyed the beauty of several passages. However, the plot did not do it for me and it felt like the book was repetitive, taking forever to advance the storyline. Overall a mixed bag, but I would definitely consider reading another novel by Shriver.
But one of the things you lose in the wisdom of age is the wisdom of youth. Education is not a steady process 2. Education is not a steady process of accrual, but a touch-and-go contest between learning and forgetting, like frantically trying to fill a sink faster than it can empty through an open drain. First Sentence: What began as coincidence had crystallized into tradition: Sep 15, Rebecca McNutt rated it did not like it Shelves: Under its pretentious packaging, it's just a mass-market romance novel.
There's absolutely nothing profound or special about it in my opinion. Dec 03, Nicole rated it did not like it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. I wanted to maybe give this two stars, because I recognize that Shriver is a good writer, and I want to give her credit for the idea she tried to execute in this book.
I also appreciate a good character study. But in the end, I don't think there was much about this book I liked, so I can't find anything to warrant giving it two stars.
Very early in the book, like maybe chapter 2, it seemed to me the only way this book could have a satisfactory ending was if Irina ended up ditching both Ramsey and I wanted to maybe give this two stars, because I recognize that Shriver is a good writer, and I want to give her credit for the idea she tried to execute in this book. Very early in the book, like maybe chapter 2, it seemed to me the only way this book could have a satisfactory ending was if Irina ended up ditching both Ramsey and Lawrence on her own terms and spending time getting to know herself.
If it was meant to be a delusion she had about herself, she never realizes that. So either way, it doesn't work: But in the latter case, those lies are only useful in a narrative if the whole construction of the narrative is to contradict that lie, even if the character never comes to the realization it's a lie, OR if the character does confront and eschew the lie. I'm not convinced it's meant to be a lie by the author, either.
The whole book tried hard to convince me that Irina needed to end up with one or both of these men. It goes so far as to have Irina say that she longed for a perfect romance and thus had trouble settling for how flawed people and romances are in real life.
I can get behind that sentiment in general. In the end I think the reader is meant to see that Irina finally comes to terms with the imperfections in Ramsey and Lawrence.
The problem with that is that neither Ramsey nor Lawrence are imperfect. They're abusive. Ramsey is so incredibly emotionally abusive that I could not believe the narrative arc concluded with Irina staying with him. Oh, sure, he softens when he's dying of cancer. But if that kind of terminal disease is what it takes, there's a pretty major, inherent problem going on with that character.
Lawrence is so controlling that it goes beyond him being a stick in the mud how Irina more or less comes to define him. He's constantly denigrating Irina, destroying her self-worth, belittling her, treating her like a child. Oh, but then he turns around and helps her get her book published! Talking about cheating: I knew from the first Lawrence-centric chapter that he was going to end up cheating on Irina.
I was hoping she would find out and leave him early on, and that story line would be about something other than her life in relation to an abusive man, but alas. She sticks with him, and when she finds out he's cheating near the end of the book she can't even work up any anger, and then is advised by Ramsey to make amends. My biggest problem with Irina, though, was the intense internalized misogyny going on. But even in chapter 1, there are like two or three digs at "feminists" and "feminism" that seem out of the blue.
In her postscript to the book Shriver explains that this structure "allows me to explore the implications, large and small, of whom we choose to love" She goes on "I was not interested in writing a novel about the Good Man vs. You are presented with Irina's two departing futures, and the end of the novel throws Irina's original quandary right back in your lap" Once a year they meet with Jude and her professional snooker player husband Ramsey Acton on his birthday.
After Jude and Ramsey divorce Lawrence and Irina continue the tradition. The following year, , Lawrence is away in Sarajevo but encourages Irina to contact Ramsey, leading to the fateful decision on which the rest of the book hinges; whether or not to kiss Ramsey after retiring to his house to smoke dope after their restaurant meal.
In the first narrative Irina leaves Lawrence and moves in with Ramsey leading to a fiery marriage as she accompanies him on the professional snooker tour and neglects her own career. In the other she remains with Lawrence though increasingly feels that their relationship is going nowhere.
The two narratives intersect periodically as both personal and international events such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the September 11 attacks intervene and the final chapter is indeed shared by both narratives Reception[ edit ] It received generally positive reviews: Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times was generally positive, concluding "Lawrence often verges on being a parody of a judgmental, snobbish prig, while Ramsey often verges on being a parody of a hard-living, irresponsible celebrity.
Surely, the reader thinks, someone as sensitive and discerning as Irina could have looked for a man who combined their better qualities and actually shared at least a couple of her interests.