Synopses & Reviews
In this eagerly awaited new novel, Lionel Shriver, the Orange Prize-winning author of the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin
delivers an imaginative and entertaining look at the implications,
large and small, of whom we choose to love. Using a playful
parallel-universe structure, The Post-Birthday World
follows one woman's future as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men.
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.
"A layered and unflinching portrait of infidelity....Readers will wonder which choice was best for Irina, but Shriver masterfully confounds any attempt to arrive at a sure answer." Kirkus Reviews
"Shriver, a brilliant and versatile writer, allows these competing stories to unfold organically, each a fully rounded drama, rich with irony, ambiguity, and unforeseeable human complications. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"That we're able to overlook the flaws of Ramsey and Lawrence is, in the end, a testament to Ms. Shriver's ability to make Irina into a thoroughly compelling character, an idiosyncratic yet recognizable heroine about whom it's impossible not to care." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"While I was occasionally frustrated with Irina or I felt I was learning more about snooker than I wanted to know, there were other moments when I found myself riveted by The Post-Birthday World." Chris Bohjalian, The Boston Globe
"Shriver's eighth novel will attract patient readers ready for the next step after chick lit....This novel is ostensibly formulaic, but the details and the solid writing make it ultimately enjoyable." Booklist
"You can't blame Shriver for taking up with a cliche: It's a perfectly enjoyable cliche, one that ought to have delivered a slim, smart, entertaining read. The problem is, Shriver can't seem to find a tone that will let her (and us) have any fun." Newsday
"Shriver succeeds at constantly taking the pulse of the aftermath of betrayal and duplicity. The Post-Birthday World is a steamy examination of the possibilities of what might happen if you give into temptation or what might happen if you don't." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The long-awaited new novel from the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin is an entertaining and deeply human look at love and the choices people make.
It all hinges on one kiss. Whether Irena McGovern does or does not lean in to a specific pair of lips will determine whether she stays with her disciplined, intellectual partner Lawrence or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player. Using a parallel universe structure, we follow Irena's life as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men. Where Lawrence is supportive and devoted, Ramsey is flighty and spontaneous. Lawrence is emotionally withdrawn to the point of repression; Ramsey is fiery and passionate, but volatile. The contrasts between the two men have ramifications for Irena's relationships with friends and family, for her career as an illustrator, and more importantly, for the texture of her daily life.
About the Author
Lionel Shriver is the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, the winner of the 2005 Orange Prize. Her other books include Game Control, A Perfectly Good Family, and Double Fault. She lives in London.