Customer Reviews


33 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


34 of 34 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 Katharine Kirby

versus
12 of 12 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


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

34 of 34 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 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of her other books, 29 Nov. 2010
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 April 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Families are funny things, 14 Nov. 2009
By 
NB (Middlesbrough, UK) - See all my reviews
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Good Family, 31 Aug. 2010
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to her other books, 10 Jan. 2009
By 
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars A perfectly dysfunctional family, 16 Feb. 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I suggested A Perfectly Good Family to my reading circle, it was because I had admired the writing of Lionel Shriver in We Need to Talk about Kevin. Looking through her titles, I thought inheritance would be a safer option than that notorious book, and, because despite being riveted by We need to talk …’, I doubt if I could read it a second time.

The book tells the story of two brothers - macho slob, Mordecai and wimpish perfectionist, Truman - and a sister, Corlis, or Corrie Lou, who together with a worthy charity, inherit their parents’ home. Each of the brothers wants to own the house and buy out the other one, but they can only do this with the help of their sister.

A Perfectly Good Family was written before We need to talk …,’ and, at first sight, the prose did not seem to me so sparkling; in fact occasionally the sentences seemed a bit rambling and incomprehensible. Also, there were too many Americanisms for me. These were observations I made at about the half way point, but my main problem was not the above, but the fact that the story had not moved very far at that stage, even though we had learned quite a lot about the main protagonists.

In an article, Lionel Shriver describes the similarities to her own family, for example, the action takes place in North Carolina, where she was raised, and like the protagonists, she is the only girl sandwiched between two brothers. Her parents, though alive, have similarities to the fictional dead parents in their liberal politics and other attributes.

So although this is a piece of fiction, the relationships are based on truth and as result of that, I think there is a problem with having a great deal of information on the subject matter. Like any sort of research or pot of knowledge, it’s tempting to include too much of it. So I am wondering if Lionel Shriver got carried away, when describing her own family and was so busy setting the scene that she forgot about the plot.

There were characteristics which were horribly familiar to me - the obsessive recycling of sheets of aluminium foil, for example, which I’m sure were drawn from life - and they were amusing, but perhaps, a bit too much of them.

At first sight, the brothers, although very different, are both unappealing in different ways, and the narrator has also some unpleasant ways. Only when the brothers are reconciled and Corri Lou is honest with them, did I get to like them all more.

This is a story of family dynamics and not only describes sibling rivalry, but also a kind of emotional incestuousness, with both brothers vying for attention and affection from their sister, while she both welcomes and is put into a state of divided loyalty by that affection.

The story takes off once the siblings start battling over their inherited house, and the real action begins about half way through with the Christmas dinner from hell. The various events that follow keep the interest from flagging.

I found the book interesting, but I think my next Shriver will probably be post Kevin. I would probably give it 3.5 stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly good I guess, 16 Feb. 2011
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Perfectly Good Family
A Perfectly Good Family by Lionel Shriver
£3.85
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews