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The Post-Birthday World [Paperback]

Lionel Shriver
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

1 April 2008

The new novel from the Orange Prize winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin

It all hinges on one kiss. Whether Irina McGovern does or does not lean in to a specific pair of lips in London will determine whether she stays with her disciplined, intellectual partner Lawrence or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player. Using a parallel universe structure, we follow Irina's life as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men. Lawrence is Irina's partner of nearly ten years. Ramsey is the ex-husband of a sometime friend, a once-a-year acquaintance to whom Irina has never paid a great deal of attention. Where Lawrence is supportive and devoted; Ramsey is flighty and spontaneous. Lawrence is emotionally withdrawn to the point of repression; Ramsey is fiery and passionate, but volatile. The contrasts between the two men have ramifications for Irina's relationships with friends and family, for her career as an illustrator, and more importantly, for the texture of her daily life.

This love is about trade-offs. Both men in Irina's dual future are worthy of her affection but deeply flawed. The answer is that there is no perfect answer: one of the things that draws us to our mates is what is wrong with them. The Post-Birthday World is written with all the subtlety, perceptiveness and drama that made We Need to Talk About Kevin an international bestseller.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Cover Worn edition (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007245149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007245147
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,302 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


Praise for The Post-Birthday World:

‘Those of us who rave about the dash and dare of Lionel Shriver’s fiction can rejoice that The Post-Birthday World, a ‘Sliding Doors’-style joint tale of alternative loves and lives, will garner the attention she always deserves’

‘’a compelling survey of the competing merits of security vs.desire.’
Saturday Guardian

‘Shriver gives us another passionate novel…Like Sliding Doors, the tale splits into two, following the dramatic turns of each choice. Brilliant’

‘It's another domestic drama with a compelling twist…the power struggle between the sexes is spot-on. Shriver chalks her narrative cue with relish and, once the story gets underway, it's hard to take your eyes off the green baize’

‘’The Post-Birthday World’ is Lionel Shriver’s forthcoming work about the dilemmas of love – a must if you were gripped by ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’’
Harper’s Bazaar

‘perceptive and highly original’

About the Author

Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five different languages. Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Kevin - and all the better for it 9 Jun 2008
First things first - this book isn't a sequel to We Need to Talk About Kevin. A fairly obvious point to make, but one that really does need making. Because this seems to be the expectation of many reviews that I have read. Certainly, Kevin is an amazing and poignant book, and if you haven't read it yet, then where the hell have you been? However, as a writer, Shriver has the ability to write about a wide and varied range of subject matter. This is what good writers do. If you really want to learn more on high school massacres, then rent out Bowling for Columbine.

So, if you can get Kevin out of your head for five minutes, then please turn your attention to The Post-birthday World. And this is one novel that really is deserving of your attention. In the first chapter, Irina is faced with a life changing choice: does she stick with her decent, reliable yet slightly dull long-term partner Lawrence, or does she give it all up for a life of passion and unpredictability with hard living and exciting snooker player Ramsey? The book then branches into two; in alternate chapters it shows what happens when Irina leaves Lawrence, and what happens when she stays.

The result is an entrancing read. Now, I'll be the first to admit that snooker is not the sexiest of sports. But, as with Shriver's other sports novel Double Fault, it's almost not what Shriver writes about but the way she writes about it. On paper, her subject content sounds fairly dull; snooker, middle age people falling in love, the politics of Northern Ireland. And yet she still manages to intrigue and draw the reader in, and to make them care. Plus, anyone who is able to take the dull relation of the sports world and make it sound interesting and even a little bit sexy will always get my admiration.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Before you spend time reading my review instead of the wonderful "The Post-Birthday world", let me tell you at the start - it's fantastic and you must rush out straight away to buy a copy. Then clear your diary till you've finished it!

The writing is accomplished, the story is compelling, but it is all the little asides, the philosophising about life that for me really takes Shriver's work out of the realm of the ordinary. Again and again while reading this book I was astounded at how she seemed to have written down - very eloquently - thoughts that have been jumbling about in my head for years. Some passages were so personally relevant to me, I felt she must have got inside my head somehow. Perhaps it's just that the theme she expounds upon is universal and perhaps many readers will feel the same way I did.

The story centres about Irina. She has been in a long-term relationship with stable, good-but-boring guy Lawrence. While Lawrence is away one night, she ends up going out for dinner with Ramsey the ex-husband of a former friend. Ramsey is a dapper, sexy, famous snooker player. They have a great night, end up going back to his house and at the end of the first chapter we find them just about to kiss.

Chapter two begins the story of what happened after the kiss. Subsequently we find there is a second chapter two which starts in a world where the kiss did not happen. The book proceeds in this fashion - two of each chapter showing what happens in each possible world.

We've all been there - wondering what would have happened if I left/didn't leave a certain partner. Would my life have been better if I opted for sexy rather than stable? Should I have abandoned security and gone for the dangerous option?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No fluff, just real honest characters 1 July 2010
The thing I love about Lionel Shriver is that she doesn't make you fall for her characters - she doesn't hide their flaws, she doesn't tell you who to like and who to hate. Instead, she presents them honestly and leaves you to decide who appeals to you. This means that it's easy to identify with them, and means also that she is able to say things that we all, as humans, think, but that we might be ashamed or embarrassed or scared to admit to. As a result of this honesty, I didn't really like any of her characters particularly but at the same time I loved reading about them because they were so real.

I worried at the beginning of the book that it was going to get annoying having to read chapter 2 twice, chapter 3 twice and so on. But actually it was really enjoyable - the two versions are always quite different, and seeing another way of the same scene playing out makes you better able to analyse and form an opinion on each occurrence.

When I read, I like to be made to think. I want to be dying to discuss the book when I'm finished The Post-Birthday World did exactly that. I'd highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Reliable vs Mr. Exciting - a masterpiece 22 Sep 2009
As someone who has always wondered what life would be life if I had gone down a different path, this book was the perfect anedote. In fact, I plan to send a copy of this book to all my married friends. The characters are compelling, it's insanely clever in its literary execution and to be quite honest I loved every single word. The eternal theme of Mr.Reliable vs Mr. Exciting is explored in such a unique and revealing way that you come away realising that indeed no one is perfect, and all lives (and all paths in life) have tradeoffs - and yet, and this is the part that I love about the book, whatever path you have chosen (or not chosen) happiness is ALWAYS an option. This book is BETTER than "we need to talk about kevin" - because the themes are real; and the choices are relatable to every woman that hase ever loved or been loved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars No-one speaks like that. Not even Dick Van Dyke was this ...
I can't read this book! Who ever researched the London dialect needs to look for a new career! No-one speaks like that. Read more
Published 7 days ago by mrs bouquet
1.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly bad
I bought this because I really enjoyed Lionel Shriver's other novels, so not sure how she could produce something this bad. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Mrs Joanne M Kingston
2.0 out of 5 stars far far too long winded for me.
I found it really slow and the characters dull. I didn't care who did what in the end, it all seemed to become meaningless.
Published 27 days ago by ramsaybear
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor details
The el ectronic edition is bizarrely sc attered with gaps in be tween [sic] words, which is poor show for copy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pen Name1
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book about relationships ever
I enjoyed this even more that 'We need to talk about Kevin.' The psychology of relationships is spot on. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gail Bowen
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought as gift
Bought as a Christmas gift, at the request of the recipient. Judging by the reaction it will be read promptly.
Published 6 months ago by Marion Somers
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning read
I love this book because its so insightful and the language Lionel Shriver uses to tell the story is enlightening. I learned so many new words. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs A L E Herbert
5.0 out of 5 stars And it's funny, too
I don't want to repeat what other reviewers have said about the uniqueness of this book. But I would like to add that it is also very funny, Shrivel's metaphors are spot-on and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by MK
2.0 out of 5 stars Felt too much like a chore
I've read a couple of Lionel Shriver books previously and greatly admire her attitude to writing, having seen her being interviewed several times, however this book was a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Janie U
1.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Read
We chose this book for our book club read as 4 of us had read the Kevin book which we thought was well written and a good read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs SKT Holmes
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