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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and un-put-downable-read
The structure of this book is so clever - reflecting its theme of Larry's obsession with mazes. The reader is led through the maze of Larry's life; surging forward along favourable paths and backtracking out of deadends. I was aware of a puzzle to be solved throughout the book; and at the end had the feeling of burstign through the exit of the maze - the enigma...
Published on 12 Jan 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comes in like a lamb goes out like a lamb
An intricate and tightly woven story that takes you through the minutia of Larry's life yet strangely seldom scratches the surface of who he actually is to himself.
Published 16 months ago by Laurence Short


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and un-put-downable-read, 12 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
The structure of this book is so clever - reflecting its theme of Larry's obsession with mazes. The reader is led through the maze of Larry's life; surging forward along favourable paths and backtracking out of deadends. I was aware of a puzzle to be solved throughout the book; and at the end had the feeling of burstign through the exit of the maze - the enigma solved. (Or is it the centre of the maze with the path back still to be negotiated?)
Larry's second wife, Beth, says life is a series of chapters and this is how Larry's life is portrayed. Each chapter exploring a facet such as his relationships with wives, parents, sibling, son, friends and colleagues; his health, his penis, his clothing. Perhaps intimating at a common trait in men - the ability to compartmentalise their lives. The repetition of details throughout the book may reflect this compartmentalising with each chapter written as a free standing story. Or as time has past between each chapter the repetition of detail may be used to reinforce the feeling of time passing.
It is inevitable that Larry will part from Beth because she does what men hate most - she asks Larry to discuss his thoughts and emotions. Larry's response is always "I'll have to think about that".
The style of writing is wonderfully descriptive:-
"he senses that his life is quietly clearing its throat, getting ready, at last, to speak"
"she went quiet; the bones of her face froze sharp as stone, then collapsed into a tearful rubble".
A thought provoking book and an un-put-downable read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A-mazing portrayal of a man's life!, 29 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
Larry's Party by Carol Shields won the 1997 Orange Prize for Fiction. Does it deserve it? Well maybe I'll leave that one alone. Is it a great book? - I don't know, but it certainly is a good read.
The symbolism running through the book, down to even the pictures on the front pages of each chapter of the paperback edition I read, is of mazes. The Larry of the title sees his first maze during his English honeymoon on a visit to Hampton Court. He is transformed from small town florist with the "little" wife who collects 50cents off coupons ( I thought if was only Americans who collected those damned pieces of paper!) to a maze designer with intellectual, third wave feminist, second wife.
The book takes the reader on a series of time stops throughout Larry's life, beginning in 1977 through to the party of the title in 1997. The reader feels like a time traveller, putting down at several places and times and catching up on Larry, his life and surroundings. You see all the dead ends and wrong turns that make up the maze of Larry's (and probably everyone else's) life - indeed some parts ring so close to reality, for example the chapter on Larry's Living Tissues to this fellow mid 40s bod!
Shields captures the different eras very well - although sometimes maddenly, she reintroduces people, circumstances, facts at each time stop. How many times do you need to be told he's the son of Stu and Dorothy Weller, brother to Midge etc!. But she does subtly reflect the era of each time snippet, for example the way she describes Dorrrie, Larry's first wife - Dorrie knows how to stretch money (those coupons again!) to Dorrie knows how to manage money; Dorrie has a knack for sales; Dorrie is in car sales to Dorrie is the VP of a large and expanding sportswear manufacturer, thinking of going international.
Yes, a good read, not in my top ten category, but a good portrayal of a man's life through the last two decades.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars always brings me back, 21 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
I am searching amazon in order to purchase Larry's Party -- again. I read this book over seven years ago, and no matter where I have gone, esp within England, memories of this book and of Larry's life come back to me. I want to reread this novel to keep it fresh. With the help of this novel, my ability to sucessfully manage a maze sped up considerably -- and Larry has always been there too. He is an inspiring character and a great representative of real life. Not many books have stuck in my mind like Larry's Party. Carol Shields is a brilliant writer and I have enjoyed all of her books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What starts out as humdrum becomes totally absorbing, 19 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
I give this 4 stars only because I belive only the best book I've ever read should get five: I don't know what that is yet. This caught me by surpise. I'd bought it for a relative called Larry, without knowing anything about it or Carol Shields and then thought I'd better read it and see what I'd done (especially since one of the chapters has a vaguely suggestive title). What at the outset seemed to be a rather mundane and pretty low-key fictional biagraphy became gradually more and more gripping. It catches Larry's development from somewhat undereducated normality to the status of highly regarded expert in his field whilst never really feeling that he has changed within himself. He seems almost surprised to find that he has developed as much. This seems to me to be a normal experience as we grow older. This is a first class book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fascinating indivdual from Carol Shields pen!, 14 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
Carol Shields has once again created a character with whom our fascination lasts throughout the entire novel. Larry is a unique person with his deep interest and love of mazes yet there are elements of his personality, emotional and intellectual that we could all relate to. The many other characters in the novel are also described and introduced in such a way as to make them distinctive and hold our interest from Larrys immigrant mother with her dark secret to the Spaniard Samuel Alvero only introduced in the very last chapter. There is birth and death, sorrow and joy, the simple elemental and the supremely intellectual. Toronto, Winnipeg, Chicago and England are all featured via feelings and impressions as opposed to long descriptions. Occasionally the horticultural references can baffle the brain but it is the element of the living maze that binds this book together. The way each chapter deals with a year in Larrys life leading us through its labyrinth, makes it an easy and engrossing read! It will make you smile and make you think as all Carol Shields novels with her obvious love of people succeed in doing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet gem, 28 April 2009
By 
H. Munshi (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
This is in similar vein to other books by this great writer, where there isn't much action but the novel just grips you utterly. There were so many time where I paused and re-read sentences absorbing their impact and the wonderfully eloquent way she phrases things.

Usually Carol Shields writes from the perspective of the female but here she adopts the male voice, and to such great affect. We learn about Larry's childhood, his relationships, his marriages, his divorce, his clothes, his sadness, his joy. Our intimate understanding of him is in the context of a very interesting time in America's history which makes for intriguing reading.

I was on a plane when I finished reading this and I kept opening it again to different passages to let the words soak in again. The way she ends chapters is particularly engaging.

A bit of a treat if you are a patient reader and celebrate words and phrases.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comes in like a lamb goes out like a lamb, 30 April 2013
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This review is from: Larry's Party (Kindle Edition)
An intricate and tightly woven story that takes you through the minutia of Larry's life yet strangely seldom scratches the surface of who he actually is to himself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Metaphor for Meditation, 31 Jan 2009
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This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
It's a metaphor for the meditative process -
Wonderful book, ending, beginning, middle, all good...
Could put it down, but always picked it up again - lots of food for thought and helped me with two things I'm dealing with now: death of my husband, and middle of PhD in applied mental health.
When a book can help in time like this, I say it's a great book.
Let go of expectations, and once again, Carol Shields does not disappoint.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, but not great, 20 Sep 1999
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
This was an unusual book as it is the first contemporary novel I have read which was written by a woman from the point of view of a man - and I found this aspect of the novel most convincing.
However, like many other reviewers, although I was intrigued at the beginning of the novel, I felt let down after the half-way mark - and utterly disappointed by the ending.
Yes, it's amusing and clever, but it's not as good as Ms Shields' obvious talent could have made it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing towards the end, 7 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Larry's Party (Paperback)
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. It was engaging and funny, and the characters were lively. But after several chapters, the storyline became rather dull, and the ending was quite awful. I was really diappointed because I'd enjoyed the first half so much. I still give three crowns but I don't think it's as good as people say. Maybe I'd expected too much.
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Larry's Party
Larry's Party by Carol Shields (Paperback - 26 Mar 2010)
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