Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars14
4.1 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 31 July 2013
Ever since I first read "We need to talk about Kevin" I knew I had to read all of Shriver's books, and were better to start than with the beginning of her literary career. And boy, what a debut. All the necessary elements are there: great characters, a plot with a quirky structure, and a style that is not only challenging and intelligent, but also poetic and wistful.

The story is divided into three levels so to speak: one anthropologist's wild adventure in Africa, one account of a troubled boy's past, and the subsequent union of the two. Gray, the fierce and slightly feared aging beauty; and Ralph, the ravishing, manipulating, young Zeus. A complicated yet passionate relationship of two sides of the same coin.

Narrated by Errol, Gray's best friend, there is definitely a "Gatsbyanesque" feel to it. A simple friend stands on the side lines and tells us about an exotic, strange, persona who is in love with someone they really shouldn't be. Except in this case, Errol despises Ralph utterly.

All the characters are real, alive, complicated. So different from each over, so the same. Exactly like real life.
The prose, the sentences are incredibly structured and involved, they become beautiful in there complexity.

And finally, an added bonus to the package, a peep into the world of anthropology. Told by way of a study of human conduct, of our behavior, our actions when faced with complicated matters, by means of this book, which if you cannot tell by know, I loved.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Female of the Species by Lionel Shriver

Having been so affected by We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics)which still remains the best discussion our book club has had so far, after ten years of reading together; I decided to go deeper with Lionel Shriver and have a go at her other works. I read The Post-Birthday World' with moderate enjoyment and a feeling of exquisite sadness at what might have been, A Perfectly Good Familywith even more pleasure and now I have found this, her debut novel.

This new floppy paperback is attractively soft and comfortable to hold, being a `P.S.' edition it has helpful extras; a `A Meet Lionel Shriver' essay, `Have you read?' suggestions, and best of all the `About The Book' piece by LS. In this LS chats about her own feelings on revisiting `The Female of the Species' for the first time since its publication in 1986. I found that fascinating; it helped me to understand `The Female of The Species' much better, also it gave me the grit to get through what is a very odd and long beginning. LS calls it a "beginning riff - full of jokes to keep myself entertained, and carrying on in such detail because I was the boss and could do whatever I felt like."

The story of the acclaimed female anthropologist Gray Kaiser begins in her past, when she goes to study an obscure tribe, being run by a man they perceive to be their god - Charles Corgie. (Lionel Shriver does come up with some odd names). The effects of what happened to Gray in the mountains of Kenya, an exciting and memorable experience, boldly cinematic in scope; linger with her for the rest of her life. We meet her again at 59, when she is still a virgin, revisiting the Il-Oroen tribe and about to fall for her beautiful, mysterious, grad student Raphael. The tale is then masterfully taken over, thankfully, at this point by her long term best friend Errol McEchern who, previously in the background, arises and single handedly lifts the book into something truly readable by the use of his fertile imagination. Errol, in story telling mode, fleshes out the previous life of the enigmatic and charming Raphael to such an extent that the book lifts off into the stratosphere of the best of all possible writing.

This book, as we now know, announces the arrival of a hugely admired and competent storyteller and is surely worthy of anyone's time and effort. The subject matter, social anthropology, allows LS to confidently explore some robust and contemporary themes most impressively. Her own wholehearted enjoyment in pinning down what explodes from her glittering imagination clearly signposts the promise of further fireworks as yet unlit.
0Comment|29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 March 2013
I really enjoyed this Lionel Shriver book. It's completely different from "Kevin" and equally as readable. I'm looking forward to reading more by her- she's a very unique author with a very interesting view of life which always sparks discussion amongst my friends.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 June 2015
A bit heavy going at times, too descriptive the reader can lose track. Hard to believe that a 25 year old fabulous looking man would have any interest in a 59 year old spinster...and virgin at that. Would have been more credible if she was 49 or 50. And does Lionel Shriver really expect us to believe a 59 yr old woman could beat a very fit sporty 25 yr old man in his prime at tennis and also challenge him to an arm wrestle beforehand ?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 August 2015
I understand this is one of Shriver's early books. Glad I didn't read it first - I would probably not have become the Shriver fan I am. Tries too hard to be 'intelligent' in my opinion.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 August 2014
as always a brilliant read
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 May 2013
Good story and pleasant read but not thought provoking like some of LS other work. The breakdown of the lead character isn't as in-depth as the description of the book allows one to believe.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 June 2016
Only way to this seems to be review aargh mmmmmlll rt ok pli st six more words require oh dear
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 December 2011
Brilliantly written if unusual book by this great author. I have to re-read paragraphs just to take in her wonderful writing.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 April 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed this and as usual beautifully written.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

£4.99

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.