Friday, November 4, 2011

The Post-Birthday World

The Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver

I have been planning to read something by Lionel Shriver for a few years, hearing so many positive reviews about her books. At the same time I suspect that emotionally I may not be up to We Need to Talk about Kevin, the story of parents as they cope with a child who has committed a school massacre. So I was happy to grab this one off the library shelf in order to 'give the author a go'.

It's based on the classic premise - 'what if?'

Irina has a long term partner, Lawrence - life isn't perfect, but it's comfortable. They have a friend, the hard-living snooker player Ramsay. One year, Irina and Ramsay have dinner for his birthday. After drinking too much they end up back at Ramsay's place and Irina is faced with a choice. Does she lean forward and kiss Ramsay, setting off one chain of events? Or does she stop herself, go home and therefore live out a different life?

We read matching chapters of each scenario, as they play out side by side over about 15 years. For those that remember the movie Sliding Doors, with Gwyneth Paltrow - it's exactly the same idea.

I enjoyed it. Shriver writes realistically about people, their choices and foibles. I enjoyed her writing style and her use of language. It's gritty at times, and if you don't like a lot of talk about intimate relations, you might be uncomfortable at a number of points.

I might have a look for some of her other titles, like So Much for That and give them a go too.

(If you would like to read the first few chapters online, go here)


Amy SUN said...

Hi Wendy, I am your fans. I borrowed 'The Secret river' from the library, but it is so difficult to me that I couldn't finish it. This book sounds fun, I will borrow one later. Hope the English of this book is not too difficult :)


Wendy said...

Hi Amy,

That's a shame about the Secret River, I can see why the English was hard though, lots of older English terms (set 200 years ago) and the main character had a odd way of speaking. I also recall there were no "quotations marks" for conversation, so I'm not surprised you found it hard.

The Post-Birthday world might be hard too, because it uses a lot of English and American expressions, but see how you go! (and just to warn you, it's long.)