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The Post-Birthday World | [Lionel Shriver]

The Post-Birthday World

Children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid, until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton.
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Publisher's Summary

Children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid, until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton.

The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps, most importantly, the texture of her daily life.

Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina's alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver's exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver's work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.

©2008 Lionel Shriver; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The rewards for sticking with these 500-plus pages are as delicious as one of Irina's feasts." (The Washington Post)
"Best novel of '07." (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (44 )
5 star
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3.0 (18 )
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3.7 (19 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Susan D Somerset, NJ USA 12-04-10
    Susan D Somerset, NJ USA 12-04-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A terrific examinination of relationships"

    Unlike some other reviewers, I loved this book and thought the narrator was fine. Shriver's focus in this novel is the nature of relationships itself: how it is that so many of us seek happiness and cannot fully figure out when we have it, how we squander it, how we lose it, and how all of our choices, however small, change us. Who are we attracted to? How important is sex? How do we become different when we're with different kinds of people? Who, then, are we anyway? By examining parallel imaginative lives, this novel allows us to think harder and wiser about our own possibilities, decisions, and realities. Ironically, while the chapters end up shifting between 'black' and white' ??? as a way of dividing up the different lives ??? by the end, the entire conceit shows that while 'black' and 'white' are different, they're not about right or wrong, they're just about different paths. I might also add, that I got so addicted to listening to this novel , I also downloaded the Kindle version for the moments I had time to read even faster than I could listen.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Francis Corpus Christi, TX, United States 03-29-11
    Francis Corpus Christi, TX, United States 03-29-11 Member Since 2007
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    "What is wrong with these people?"

    I cannot understand the negative reviews for this magnificent book. Lionel Shriver is one of the best writers working today, but, unfortunately, does not garner the plaudits and hype that fall to writers like Jonathon Franzen and (this year) Jennifer Egan. Both of these writers are great, but so is Shriver. Post-Birthday World is a challenging and completely engaging story of a woman faced with a critical life choice at a critical moment and Shriver takes us down both paths the woman could have chosen. Structurally, Post-Birthday world puts Shriver in good company with those other narrative benders, Egan and David Mitchell, but Shriver breathes such life and depth into her characters putting her on a level all her own. Read this book. Wow.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lsweet Dallas, TX, US 07-02-10
    lsweet Dallas, TX, US 07-02-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I couldn't finish it, which is unusual"

    I listened for about 5 hours and finally gave up trying to find something worth hearing. The author can turn a good phrase, so perhaps the problem was the reader -- monotonous, flat, very little inflection. I had to go back and relisten several times because I kept falling asleep.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginette Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada 06-02-10
    Ginette Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada 06-02-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "best book I've read in years!"

    I just love Lionel Shriver. A few years ago I had read We need to talk about Kevin. This latest book didn't disappoint me in the least. I thought the concept highly original - the parallel stories about Irina's life had she succombed to the temptation and her life if she had been faithful to her chosen life, her husband. The book was funny, I found myself laughing out loud; it was analytical, very realistic and true to life I felt. It was sexy yet it wasn't superficial - a reflexion on married life, love, etc. A great book. Un coup de coeur as they say in French! I highly recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Atlanta, GA, United States 08-07-10
    Emily Atlanta, GA, United States 08-07-10
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    "Horrible narrator"

    I enjoyed this book well enough. It was interesting, and although it was nothing to get too excited about, it kept me entertained. My main reason for rating this book three stars instead of four is the narrator. I found her distractingly bad. Especially when talking in the voice of the main character Irina, I thought her voice was obnoxiously whiny and it made me dislike the character. And while the narrator's voice was often whiny, her narration still somehow remained flat. I couldn't help but wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it rather than listen to this horrible reading of it. At least she was pretty good at getting the accents right.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anara Canada 02-26-13
    Anara Canada 02-26-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Great concept, but not well executed"

    Although I found the "What if..." premise of the book very interesting, the plot felt contrived. I was particularly disappointed by what I felt to be highly unrealistic mirroring of plot elements (from events to minor dialogue) in the two stories. I slogged through the second half of the book, hoping it would at least end with some thought-provoking ambiguity. Instead, the intended morals were essentially written out, and the ending felt depressing and fatalistic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen ASHEVILLE, NC, United States 04-24-11
    Karen ASHEVILLE, NC, United States 04-24-11 Member Since 2011
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    "great writing;disappointing story telling"

    I'm new to audible books and have quickly learned one lesson. A good read doesn't necessarily make good listening. The post birthday world has a central characted from south London, Hearing that accent in his speech is key. Disappointingly, this narrator has a completely unbeleivable English accent. I am English and could have forgiven an English accent from another region, but this is not recognizable. She makes Ramsey sound as if he lived half his life in a southern staate! Irritating to listen to and spoiled my enjoyment of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baycyd San Francisco 07-07-10
    Baycyd San Francisco 07-07-10 Member Since 2005

    Baycyd

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    "Even if you enjoy Shriver, not recommended"

    I'm a huge fan of Shriver, but I so disliked this story, and the pacing, and everythng about it that I just cannot recommend it. In fact, I recommend that Shriver fans skip this one altogether.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 08-31-11
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 08-31-11 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "Intense and chatty"

    While I am a fan of Shriver's work - loved "We Need To Do Something About Kevin" and "So Much For That", I found this listen to be way too chatty, and by that I mean the story is carried more by dialogue than description or thoughts and reflections. The constant conversation disrupts my focus and makes the story, or in this case, stories, wander all over the place, and it's difficult to locate a "bookmark" once you've stopped listening for a bit.

    I do like the parallel narratives as an intellectual construct, as it's an original and unusual format, but as I have said, the book would have worked better for me if it weren't so wordy and crammed full of convoluted conversation. A better chat/description balance would have been better IMO.

    And I agree - the South London accent did not add anything.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melony Green cove Springs, FL, United States 10-31-11
    Melony Green cove Springs, FL, United States 10-31-11 Member Since 2011
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    "when will it end!"

    OMG, if it weren't for bookclub, I would have chucked this one less than half way through. Yes, clever two stories, two alternate realities happening concurrently, like Sliding Doors with Pawltrow. Too long, too stupid, obviously written by a co-dependent woman.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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