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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a perfectly good book; well worth keeping!
Reading "A Perfectly Good Family" by Lionel Shriver with a ghastly fascination I felt as if I were watching something so private, so complicated and so human that I was embarrassed to be a voyeur into the McCrea family lives.

Getting to know each of the three adult children who have to sort out their responses to an unexpectedly challenging situation following...
Published on 13 Jun 2010 by Mrs. Katharine Kirby

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of her other books
Having been enthralled by We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics) and So Much for That I was perhaps expecting too much from this book. As is her hall-mark Lionel Shriver again deals with difficult issues, in this case, of the squabbles that can split a family over inheritance and the interpersonal difficulties among siblings. The title, I think, was meant...
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Bluebell


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a perfectly good book; well worth keeping!, 13 Jun 2010
By 
Mrs. Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
Reading "A Perfectly Good Family" by Lionel Shriver with a ghastly fascination I felt as if I were watching something so private, so complicated and so human that I was embarrassed to be a voyeur into the McCrea family lives.

Getting to know each of the three adult children who have to sort out their responses to an unexpectedly challenging situation following their parents' deaths was creepily interesting and ultimately rewarding. When you get a handle on the character of the narrator Corlis you realise that anything could happen.

Lionel Shriver gives us glimpses of Corlis when she lived in London where her ménage a trois foreshadows the Janus like way in which she behaves towards her older and younger brothers.

With these two very different men; Trueman and Mordecai, together with the `Fourth Child" which is their parent's named charity bequest; the Heck-Andrews house, that has intriguingly also a beguiling character of it's own; needs fresh ownership arrangements.

Sorting through their parents effects sparks off varied reminiscences to the point the reader gets to know all too well what kind of family the McCreas were in their prime. I loved the scene when the freezer is cleared out. It rang so very true. Unravelling the allegiances, fantasies and personal visions of the way things were is hauntingly sad and therapeutic.

I enjoyed this book immensely for the family story it contains but feel that were I from the USA I would get even more from it as the references are densely everyday cultural ones for Americans, more alien to a UK readership.

It is interesting that some of our authors are not well received in the USA and are not offered publication but we perhaps more tolerantly read so much that is not familiar, in the way of food references, fashion, politics and manners. Even if we have never been to the USA we feel as though we know it, sometimes it feels as if we are reading in a foreign language, although over the years of reading their books we have absorbed so much of their way of doing things.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of her other books, 29 Nov 2010
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Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
Having been enthralled by We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics) and So Much for That I was perhaps expecting too much from this book. As is her hall-mark Lionel Shriver again deals with difficult issues, in this case, of the squabbles that can split a family over inheritance and the interpersonal difficulties among siblings. The title, I think, was meant to be ironic and it certainly turned out to be that way with the resentments against their dead parents being aired and the two brothers and their sister chaffing against one another as the story unfolds as to what will happen to the rambling property left to the three of them plus, to their surprise, also to a Civil Rights Charity supported by their father. There are some good black-humour scenes, such as the painfully awful Christmas, but I feel that the book is too long for what it has to say. About half-way through I started skipping pages and even chapters and I don't think I lost much of the story as there's not much story but a lot of descriptive stuff about family dynamics.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 April 2011
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
As a massive fan of 'Kevin' I was really disappointed by this self indulgent novel. It tried too hard, the characters didn't feel authentic. This was my choice for our book club and I felt I had to apologise for it. Not one member really enjoyed it. However I have to say that it inspired the most debate of any of our choices to date, not so much about the novel, but about the issues of inheritance that it it raises.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inheritance, parents and sibling relationships dissected, 16 Nov 2011
By 
R. B. Duenas Leon "Warrior Queen" (Buckinghamshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
A Perfectly Good FamilyThere was something bland about the blurb for this book. Don't be fooled. On almost every page, something in the story resonated with me and my own family. I'm convinced all readers will have something in common with one of the three children in the story.

The daughter doesn't believe she's earned a penny of the money her parents' grand house is worth; the youngest brother believes the house is his because he still lives in it, has maintained it and put up with mother; the oldest child (the black sheep) has done little for the family but wants his share. Immediately.

The way the story snakes about dealing with the residual feelings each child has for the parents once they've died makes a fascinating study. Do we kid ourselves we're close to our parents/siblings? Are we?

I was glad by then end fearing the house which came to symbolise everything between parent and child (a monstrosity, a gift, the parents' hard work, a complicated task for the children) would overpower them.

Lionel Shriver has a brutal understanding of people and isn't afraid of tackling our ugliest moments head on.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Good Family, 31 Aug 2010
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
I have read most of Lionel Shriver's books and enjoyed them. This was a very disappointing read. It was slowly paced with not much to it. If you had to read the first and last chapter you would know exactly what had happened in the whole book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Families are funny things, 14 Nov 2009
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NB (Middlesbrough, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
Families are funny things. WE can moan about them all we like to our mates, but stand up for them with grit if anyone else pipes up. So I can't fathom why someone would want to publicly explore a family which is very close to their real-life set -up.I couldn't deal with the indignation, or the letters or the silence which the author recieved when her family read this.

Although totally engaging, the characters in this are flawed and unsympathetic, which is how real people are innit? Corlis infuriated me, with her lack of decisiveness, as did Trueman - a grown up who was whinier than a teething baby. Eldest brother Mordecai was spot on for the time - all long plaits, meat and grunge - and reminded me of many men I've met who desperately try to be provocative in order to hide the softness underneath.

The idea that adults feel like they are entitled to their parents belongings no matter what fascinates me. If someone leaves you something fair enough, but to ffeel liek you;re owed just because you exist is madness. So the central story grabbed me from the outset, although I really wanted at least one the chracaters to realise they were not entitled.

I loved the way she spun this - from an interesting premise, past arguments and grudges right up to the unexpected ending - and whilst this may not be the most flattering portrait of families , it was honest and unflinching, funny and embarrassing, just the like the best families.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to her other books, 10 Jan 2009
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Having thoroughly enjoyed other books by Lionel Shriver, notably the excellent '...Kevin', I bought this with enthusiasm and was quite disappointed. Although it is well written and has memorable characters and a few memorable lines which have stayed with me, I felt it was a bit slow overall and nothing I cared about really happened.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sibling relationships, 7 Feb 2009
By 
Owl (Exeter, UK) - See all my reviews
It is ludicrous that more of Lionel Shriver's earlier books aren't in print in the UK and this, I guess, is where Amazon comes into its own! If you like her style and topics (and I do), this is a very interesting take on family life: in that case the adult siblings working out what to do about the family home they have jointly inherited. Bits seemed unrealistic to me, but the style is one readers of 'Kevin' and the 'Post-birthday world' will recognise. In the same way as both of these it makes me think about myself in similar situations (thankfully not one I've had to face yet) hope that my brother and I will acquit ourselves better when the time comes!! At least Shriver's fairly negative (or at least far from rose-tinted) views of family life, families leave some room for optimism in thinking about my own family!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly good I guess, 16 Feb 2011
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
This plods along a bit but all the threads start to tighten up in the last 70 pages or so, and I was surprised to find myself quite moved as the story played out, especially as I had actively considered giving this one up at several points along the way. Lionel Shriver certainly has a gift for unreliable, and unlikeable, narrators.

Not sure I'd really recommend this, and it is not a patch on We Need To Talk About Kevin - but then not many books are. If you like the sort of thing that Anne Tyler does really well then you may find this enjoyable/absorbing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average Chick Lit read..., 22 Sep 2014
By 
Samsmom (Munich, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Family (Paperback)
Yes, it is a somewhat slower read than some others, but while it's not a thriller, nor a romance novel, nor particularly humorous, I loved how each chapter held something new. It's not a "read-it-all-in-one-sitting" kind of book, but just sooooooo well-written. The author's use of the English language is impeccable, or else she's got some top-notch editors. I stick mainly to Chick Lit; it's formulaic, but comforting, and funny, and there's always a happy ending. But the title of this book spoke to me, so I picked it up and I was anything but disappointed. If other reviewers are saying that Shriver's other books are better, then bring it on. I know what I'll be ordering next. :-)
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A Perfectly Good Family
A Perfectly Good Family by Lionel Shriver (Paperback - 30 May 2010)
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