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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Kevin - and all the better for it
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...
Published on 9 Jun 2008 by Ms. C. M. Bozic

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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. I took this book on holiday and couldn't even bear to read it to the end while sat on a sunlounger with nothing else to do. From the vapid, heroine to the ungengaging storyline (I honestly couldn't have cared less what she did with her love life)...
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Joanne M Kingston


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Kevin - and all the better for it, 9 Jun 2008
By 
Ms. C. M. Bozic "CBbookworm" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
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.

The Post-birthday World is also a brilliant observation on the nature of relationships and love. Are we ever really happy with what we've got; should we choose to stick or should we twist and gamble it all for something greater? And in the end, are we left with the same result anyway?

Unlike Kevin, this book won't make you gasp at the end, and it won't make you shocked or horrified. But it might make you think, and change how you look at the world just a little. Which is as good a result as any.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who has ever wondered 'what if' in a relationship, 15 Oct 2007
By 
H. Eaton "Helena Eaton" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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? If you've ever found yourself wondering what life would have been like IF ONLY ... then you have to read this book and see what happens in each of the post-birthday worlds.

The characters in the book are brilliantly drawn and achingly real. The arguments and rows are so authentic that you feel part of them. You won't find any two-dimensional stereotypes here - all the characters have their good and bad points, their strengths and flaws. There are no goodies and baddies.

Irina is much softer than the female characters in 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' and 'Double Fault' and I was really glad about this. While I loved those two books, I really wanted to see Shriver take on a more gentle character. I found Irina easier to relate to .. perhaps just because she's more like me.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was my best read of the year so far ... and that's saying something! Go out and get it and prepare to be absorbed!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Reliable vs Mr. Exciting - a masterpiece, 22 Sep 2009
By 
Ms. Jerramy Fine (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sliding Doors premise, only more real, subtler, with ambiguity, more tender, just MORE, 9 Jun 2008
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This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
This beautiful book examines how a relationship unravels, and where the initial seeds for the unravelling begin - twice

The central character has one of those moments which I guess happen consciously to most of us (and probably unconsciously to all of us, most of the time) How might our lives have changed if we'd done that instead of this - there's a Robert Frost poem about choosing to take one footpath rather than another which encapsulates this beautifully. And so does Shriver's book.

What I really really like is that the author is comfortable with ambiguity, doesn't tell the reader what to think or feel, paints the two 'choices' which the central character must make equally sympathetically or unsympathetically. Neither relationship is perfect, both have their particular strengths and particular weaknesses, no relationship can 'have it all', I like the fact that certain aspects of Irina's nature come to the fore with one 'soul-mate' and certain other aspects with the other 'soul-mate' It reminded me that though the chance meeting of our 'soul mate' indeed feels like fate - who knows which other soul mate(s) we might have met if we turned down that street instead of this one, went to that party rather than this, etc.

Yes, a very different book from 'Kevin' in that I guess this one in some fashion will have resonances with MOST lives (in terms of 'supposing I'd made different choices....' but it raises equally knotty questions in the reader's mind. And I so appreciate the way she feels out the minutiae of existance, really anchors the big issues into day to day reality (even if most of us don't inhabit snooker champiionships, international conferences and book award dinners!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle & compelling but bleak, 3 Dec 2008
By 
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
I loved 'we need to talk about Kevin', and I loved this as well.

Shriver writes with unflinching, and at times uncomfortable, clarity and honesty about the fragilities and failings of the human condition, and whilst at times I found this book quite depressing, I also couldn't put it down.

I loved the parallel stories of Irina and the ramifications on her and the men in her life from that tipping point decision - I've had one of those myself, not quite as clearcut as being hinged on a kiss, but I still wonder what would have happened if I'd made the other choice...

I think the best books stay with you and make you reflect on their content and even better how that applies to your own life - and as Kevin made me think about motherhood, and whether I wanted to be a mother, so this has made me think about relationships, and whether I want to be in one.

As many here have already pointed out - Ramesey's accent is a deadful muddle I have to agree, however this minor point does not detract from what is a very well-wrtten and thought-provoking novel.

As an aside I think Ramsey was the best choice for her to have made, but I am an old romantic (despite or perhaps because I have settled for a Lawrence myself)...makes you think though doesn't it? Which is the whole point!
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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
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel you can't put down., 18 April 2008
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
I know it's been said by the other reviewers, but I too loved the shocking story of "Kevin". However, I hadn't really kept up with Lionel Shriver's work after reading it. But this really was, like "Kevin", a book I was unable to put down and I felt bereft in more ways than one when it was (all too quickly) over. An excellent and disturbing read, especially for those who identify with Irina. Lionel Shriver, more, please! And thank you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly bad, 17 Jun 2014
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I bought this because I really enjoyed Lionel Shriver's other novels, so not sure how she could produce something this bad. I took this book on holiday and couldn't even bear to read it to the end while sat on a sunlounger with nothing else to do. From the vapid, heroine to the ungengaging storyline (I honestly couldn't have cared less what she did with her love life) this was awful. But the most gratingly horrible thing by far was the shocking American attempt at Ramsey the snooker player's English vernacular, which was a confusing mix of Dick Van Dyke cockney and a parody of Northern colloquialisms as imagined by a patronising American academic. I don't think anybody in the North speaks like this. Or England. Or the world. And nobody quotes Snooker Loopy quite so often, and without irony. Maybe I am doing this book an injustice and it had a fantastic ending. But I am happy never to find out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A marathon but thought provoking read, 20 July 2008
By 
Russell Turner (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Post-Birthday World (Paperback)
Its a long read but ultimately worth it as it shows what an elusive thing "perception" is - how you could come to totally different conclusions, choices and opinons about your life because of what happens in one moment in time when you have to make a choice about something. I must admit to be an alternate universe fan so the format and content of this novel attracted me (I also enjoyed Sliding Doors and GroundHog Day. After about 100 pages I thought "Well thats it, why do we need another 300 pages of the same" - but in fact I enjoyed the last 100 or so pages as much as the first 100. Although on the face of it a romance type book, I feel its much more than this, Shriver is a very fine writer and a keen observer of life. 7 out of 10. For another take on how lives can go in different directions try reading "Replay" by Ken Grimwood
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sliding doors a success, 31 Jan 2008
By 
I have to say I didn't think as I was reading it that I was going to be as blown away as I was with Kevin. I was enjoying it but nothing to write home about. But as my brain started ticking and it came towards the end of the book it had me asking as many questions about life and its twist and turns as Kevin did.

It is most certainly not a disappointment, having read Kevin, even though it's not as high impact from the start. I did wonder whether Lionel was sexually frustrated when she wrote it as there is an awful lot of text about sex. I'm not a prude but I did, on occassions, think that the sex descriptions went on too long.

I enjoyed the book, I would certainly pass the book on to a friend and I would recommend it as a good book for book clubs as it would promote quite good discussions.
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The Post-Birthday World
The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (Paperback - 1 April 2008)
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