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Double Fault Paperback – 7 May 2006

2.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Paperback, 7 May 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; FIRST EDITION edition (7 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852429119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852429119
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,051,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Purposeful and provocative novel... fans of Kevin won't be disappointed' -- The Bookseller, Feb 3, 2006

‘A brilliant tale of doomed love’ -- Observer Review, May 7, 2006

‘A tale of thwarted ambition, rivalry and resentment’ -- Eve, June 2006

‘I doubt that there is any thoughtful woman who does not recognize herself somewhere in Shriver’s writing’ -- Financial Times

‘She does not coax, or wheedle: she challenges. She makes you think’ -- Daily Telegraph

‘Shriver controls the narrative’s pace the way a champion would a tennis match’ -- The Independent

‘With prose as taut as a well-strung racket, you’ll be captivated’ -- Marie-Claire, June 2006

‘[A] purposeful and provocative novel’ -- The Daily Ireland

Book Description

What price do you pay for prizing success over love? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is inevitable that any examination of Double Fault will take place within the context of the Kevin phenomenon. If you're considering reading this book, it's likely to be because of your love of Kevin. Your appreciation of Double Fault is likely to depend on what it was you loved about Kevin.

Double Fault is a realistic, detailed and thought-provoking analysis of the deterioration of a marriage in the same way that Kevin depicted the deterioration of the mother-son relationship. Nobody writes dysfunction like Shriver.

Both novels are written from the point of view of flawed anti-heroines, with which all but the most saintly of us can identify to some extent. If you like respectable protagonists, full of honour and virtue, neither book is for you.

Double Fault examines the extent to which eventualities are pre-destined by circumstance, just as Kevin did.

Double Fault is written with exactly the same flair, entertaining imagery and vibrant characterisation.

The difference between the two novels lies in plot. Double Fault has very little. It is simply an examination of a relationship and the emotional journey taken by a character. Don't wait for a twist or a jaw-dropping finale. If therein lies your love of Kevin, avoid Double Fault.
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Format: Paperback
'Double Fault' is the sort of novel I would only consider reading after having read the blistering 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', and although it lacks the later novel's grippingly current premise, 'Double Fault' is still a damn good read. I think this may be overall testament to Shriver's accomplished talent as a fine writer of sophistocated fiction that cleverly osillates between high end literature, popular culture and just a sprinkling of 'chick lit'. All the right components are distilled in 'Double Fault' to make it distinctively Shriver's work: the relationship that starts off passionately fresh, and then deteriorates into bitter competition and spiteful revenge, the female protagonist's ambivalence towards motherhood and the succinct observations that border on the profound through the fact that they are actually quite mundane. Take for example Willy's difficult tennis match marred by the onset of her menstruation that causes a hormonal bout of diarrhoea. The imagery is horrible but somehow very true to life, a bit like Shriver's writing sometimes.
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Format: Paperback
I loved Kevin - well, insofar as I was shocked, terrified and mesmerised by it. But I could hardly believe that this was by the same author. For one thing it's laboured and horribly overwritten: metaphors stretched to breaking point, prose devices that do nothing but call attention to themselves and trite, flabby descriptive passages.
For another thing, it breaks the first rule of novel writing: show, don't tell. This does nothing but tell all the way through, relentlessly, the narratorial voice forever in your ear, never letting you discover anything for yourself, let alone become immersed in the story.
What's more, don't let anyone tell you it's 'not really' about tennis: it bloody well is, there are matches in there described serve-for-serve. If, like me, you don't know one end of a racket from the other (and don't care either), these sections are dull, dull, dull.
And finally, there's the creeping suspicion that Shriver, a shining light both for intelligent women's writing and also for the growing debate on motherhood, may turn out to be a one-trick pony: her protagonist, Willy, is an ambitious, driven woman[...]Sound familiar? She's even got a man's name, just like Lionel. With so much in common with both the author's own life, and last book, the tennis action seems to be the only thing in this book she's had to reach for - and it was to me the least interesting part of it.
While in the later parts of the book Shriver still displays an amazingly acute eye for the subtle daily bartering that goes on in most relationships, as well as an uncanny ability to pinpoint the moment the fulcrum of power shifts between two people, sadly it's too little, too late.
If, as seems likely, this examination of the paralysing fear of failure reflects Shriver's own fears in following up a phenomenon like Kevin, one can only hope she's written those worries out now, ready for a return to form with the next book.
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Format: Paperback
Just as a selling point, 'Double Fault' is distinctly similar to the well-known '....Kevin'. Its protagonist, Willy, is equally unattractive and, like Eva, she is stubbornly determined, selfish and single-minded. But Shriver is brilliant at detailing those cause-and-effects behind those personalities and we are invited to understand, if not sympathise, with them.

Although 'Double Fault' is written in the third person, its narrative is largely sympathetic with Willy. It is as effective in detailing her thoughts and feelings as 'Kevin' was in detailing Eva's. On the other hand, however, we are lured into empathising with the unlucky hack who chose Willy for a wife. Eric antagonises Willy, only with his affable and selfless nature, whch serves really to exaggerate Willy's unattractiveness. This is precisely the reason why 'Double Fault' recieved rejections before finally being published - Willy is 'unattractive'. In fact, it preceeds 'Kevin', as it was released in 1997 whereas 'Kevin' was released in 2003. In fact, a further six books preceeded 'Double Fault', so it is not the make-or-break second novel for Shriver.

Anyway, rather than a review, I'd like to recommend this book. It reports on the human relationship in such as way that one might consider it satirical, for it focuses on the reality of domestic disharmony rather than the Hollywood version in which good sense almost always prevails. No, Shriver's characters never learn, do they? Hellbent on self-effacement and destruction, they're addictively interesting. Out of frustration, you may just want to tear your pages up!
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