I’m still undecided as to whether Lionel Shriver needs a slap or a hug, but now I also think she needs a pie.

Food is such a thing in all her books – the control of it, the restriction of it, the consequences of it. It’s quite overwhelming when you read a few of her books in quick succession, and the one I want to read next is Big Brother, which is about her brother’s morbid obesity.

So yep, that’ll be fun.

I didn’t like this as much as her other books. I like how crisp and sharp (and cutting) her writing is, but this one felt forced.

The main conceit was like Sliding Doors – alternating chapters following the consequences of whether Irina does or doesn’t kiss another man. At first it works, but towards the end it starts tripping itself up and becoming more of a trap than a benefit.

It’s not like Cloud Atlas, where you want to read it right through and then go back immediately to read the individual parts. I rushed the end of this, because although I did want to see what happened, I always just wanted to get it done.

I didn’t find it as engaging as her other books, and felt like there was too much of the author in there. Food obsession? Check. Over-egging the pudding with the ‘yep, I’m an American but see how much I understand England’? Check.

I just wasn’t convinced by this, either the structure, the characters or the detail. It didn’t feel real, as though the author was trying prove she wasn’t a flinty, brittle thing and could actually write a romance. But no.

I loved Kevin. Absolutely loved it. But everything I’ve read of hers since has been incrementally more disappointing. I’m a bit scared to continue, but I do (despite my bitching) really like her writing, so onwards to Big Brother. But maybe without a pie in hand.



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