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Double Fault (Five Star Paperback) Paperback – 3 May 2007

39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Reprint edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424907
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424909
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 555,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lionel Shriver's novels include The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and A Perfectly Good Family. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.

Product Description


Shriver confronts some disconcerting truths that defy a pat, politically correct resolution (New York Times)

A brilliant tale of doomed love (Observer)

A tale of thwarted ambition, rivalry and resentment (Eve)

Shriver has a terrible gift for laying bare for us the emotions that lie just beneath the skin. I doubt that there is any thoughtful woman who does not recognize herself somewhere in Shriver's writing (Financial Times)

A terrific approach shot with which she sets things up for the deadly putaway volley that is Kevin. (Independent)

This book is about the small and large ways we hurt each other in the greatest competition on the face of the earth: Love. Buy it. It belongs on that shelf of books you will return to again and again. (Harry Crews)

A smart, perceptive novel about romance and the rivalry on the tennis court (Sainsbury's Magazine)

Shriver's explanation of Willy's character is so fearless that, although readers may not sympathise with her, they'll understand why she's driven to destroy what she loves (Metro)

Book Description

What price do you pay for prizing success over love? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By K Soze on 19 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
It is inevitable that any examination of Double Fault will take place within the context of the Kevin phenomenon. If you're considering reading this book, it's likely to be because of your love of Kevin. Your appreciation of Double Fault is likely to depend on what it was you loved about Kevin.

Double Fault is a realistic, detailed and thought-provoking analysis of the deterioration of a marriage in the same way that Kevin depicted the deterioration of the mother-son relationship. Nobody writes dysfunction like Shriver.

Both novels are written from the point of view of flawed anti-heroines, with which all but the most saintly of us can identify to some extent. If you like respectable protagonists, full of honour and virtue, neither book is for you.

Double Fault examines the extent to which eventualities are pre-destined by circumstance, just as Kevin did.

Double Fault is written with exactly the same flair, entertaining imagery and vibrant characterisation.

The difference between the two novels lies in plot. Double Fault has very little. It is simply an examination of a relationship and the emotional journey taken by a character. Don't wait for a twist or a jaw-dropping finale. If therein lies your love of Kevin, avoid Double Fault.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Penelope on 28 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
'Double Fault' is the sort of novel I would only consider reading after having read the blistering 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', and although it lacks the later novel's grippingly current premise, 'Double Fault' is still a damn good read. I think this may be overall testament to Shriver's accomplished talent as a fine writer of sophistocated fiction that cleverly osillates between high end literature, popular culture and just a sprinkling of 'chick lit'. All the right components are distilled in 'Double Fault' to make it distinctively Shriver's work: the relationship that starts off passionately fresh, and then deteriorates into bitter competition and spiteful revenge, the female protagonist's ambivalence towards motherhood and the succinct observations that border on the profound through the fact that they are actually quite mundane. Take for example Willy's difficult tennis match marred by the onset of her menstruation that causes a hormonal bout of diarrhoea. The imagery is horrible but somehow very true to life, a bit like Shriver's writing sometimes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Lionel Shriver seems to make a feature of difficult to like heroines. In this book, Willy (short for Wilhelmina) is an American tennis professional. She has a good coach and is set to make the rankings as the novel begins. Then she falls in love with Eric, a lovely man of good family who has taken up tennis in earnest and needs a lot of help. They get married, but Willy's whole existence is bound up in tennis and soon there is a conflict as Eric improves and zips through the rankings to become a real contender. As Eric's game improves, a bad fall on court seems to put an end to Willy's career.

It's hard to like Willy as a character since she is outrageously competitive, especially when it comes to her husband. There are a lot of extraneous scenes in this novel which do no more than point to Willy's lack of grace and Eric's reasonableness and astonishing good will and patience. Allied to this Lionel Shriver goes in for much rather tedious analysis. This book was actually written before her Orange prize winner We Have To Talk About Kevin and it shows. In Kevin Shriver had a contentious subject and a real dilemma to offer the reader. In Double Fault we have a conundrum mainly about the disparity between women and men in sport, manifested in Willy's extreme behaviour and her monstrously resentful attitude towards a successful husband. The ending is a real downer too. This book is nowhere near as interesting or as well constructed as Kevin and suffers in the comparison.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 20 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
Willie is a 27 year old mid-ranked US tennis player with a passion for the game, huge ambition and a future in front of her. This book tells, in parallel, the story of her marriage to Eric who starts off ranked well below her but ends up in the US Open, and Willie's own decline. It's a kind of A Star is Born in reverse, with the gender roles inverted, and is, I think, as much about our reactions to unbridled female ambition as it is about the characters. Little insertions of Hillary Clinton in the background extend this consideration of women's roles, as back-office supporters for a man or as players in their own right, and the pressures this might create in their/our own psyches as well as the impact it might have on our personal lives.

This isn't as riveting as Kevin, and there are points at which I found myself skimming the narrative. But Shriver is an acutely intelligent writer, uncompromising and sharp, and she excels at creating female characters who refuse to be good girls and play nicely.

There are not many female authors who tackle feminist politics head on but Shriver is one of them. She doesn't shy away from allowing her female protagonists to express anger, even violence, and is excellent at creating characters who are multi-dimensional, both likeable and deeply unpleasant at the same time, but always recognisable and realistic. This is, in lots of ways, an intensely sad book, with an ending that is almost tragic. But if you've ever considered whether it's really possible for a woman to have it all - the top-ranked career, the man, and the baby - then this is a must-read.
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