This beautiful book examines how a relationship unravels, and where the initial seeds for the unravelling begin - twice
The central character has one of those moments which I guess happen consciously to most of us (and probably unconsciously to all of us, most of the time) How might our lives have changed if we'd done that instead of this - there's a Robert Frost poem about choosing to take one footpath rather than another which encapsulates this beautifully. And so does Shriver's book.
What I really really like is that the author is comfortable with ambiguity, doesn't tell the reader what to think or feel, paints the two 'choices' which the central character must make equally sympathetically or unsympathetically. Neither relationship is perfect, both have their particular strengths and particular weaknesses, no relationship can 'have it all', I like the fact that certain aspects of Irina's nature come to the fore with one 'soul-mate' and certain other aspects with the other 'soul-mate' It reminded me that though the chance meeting of our 'soul mate' indeed feels like fate - who knows which other soul mate(s) we might have met if we turned down that street instead of this one, went to that party rather than this, etc.
Yes, a very different book from 'Kevin' in that I guess this one in some fashion will have resonances with MOST lives (in terms of 'supposing I'd made different choices....' but it raises equally knotty questions in the reader's mind. And I so appreciate the way she feels out the minutiae of existance, really anchors the big issues into day to day reality (even if most of us don't inhabit snooker champiionships, international conferences and book award dinners!)