Perfectly Good Family(MP3)(Unabr.) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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Praise for The Post-Birthday World: `Those of us who rave about the dash and dare of Lionel Shriver's fiction can rejoice that The Post-Birthday World, a `Sliding Doors'-style joint tale of alternative loves and lives, will garner the attention she always deserves'Independent `Shriver gives us another passionate novelâ ¦Like Sliding Doors, the tale splits into two, following the dramatic turns of each choice. Brilliant'Cosmopolitan `It's another domestic drama with a compelling twistâ ¦the power struggle between the sexes is spot-on. Shriver chalks her narrative cue with relish and, once the story gets underway, it's hard to take your eyes off the green baize'Tatler `'The Post-Birthday World' is Lionel Shriver's forthcoming work about the dilemmas of love - a must if you were gripped by `We Need To Talk About Kevin''Harper's Bazaar
About the Author
Lionel Shriver's books include The Post-Birthday World, Game Control, and the Orange Prize-winning We Need to Talk About Kevin. She writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Independent. She lives in London.
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The "perfectly good family" in question consists of Corlis, Truman, and Mordecai McCrea, three siblings who must come together to deal with their inheritance after their mother's death. The will leaves each child a quarter of the estate (consisting mostly of the family home) with the remaining quarter going to the ACLU. Truman (the youngest, who has always lived with his parents, even after his marriage) feels entitled to keep the house for himself. Mordecai (the oldest, pushing 40, with three broken marriages and a drinking problem) wants to sell the place and use his share of the money to revive his cash-poor business. Corlis (who was invited to leave her flat in London after her two male roommates discovered that she was splitting her affections between them) has decided to stay in North Carolina but finds herself in the middle of the dispute between the brothers, neither of whom can buy out the other's interest without her help.
A Perfectly Good Family was first published in Great Britain in 1996. Shriver's sixth novel mixes comedy with drama, but there isn't much dramatic tension in the conflict between the children. The drama increases toward the end, as the deadline for selling or refinancing draws near (the ACLU wants its money and isn't inclined to wait any longer), but the mood remains lighthearted. The reader has little reason to invest in either brother; in their separate ways, they are equally childish. Corlis, who provides the novel's point of view (and who seems to be something of a stand-in for Lionel Shriver, who grew up with two brothers in Raleigh, where the novel is set), is a more sympathetic character, although so often adrift and indecisive that it is difficult to cheer for her success. The novel ends on an up note that quickly follows a tragedy, but none of that created an emotional impact that would lead me to recommend the novel as a satisfying family drama.
As light comedy, however, the novel succeeds. The characters are amusing and in broad terms are recognizable as members of typical American families. Shriver's pithy observations about their roles in the family and in life make the novel worthwhile. For instance, Truman looks forward to finishing a product (shampoo or whatever) so he can buy a new one, leading Corlis to wonder "if this delight in dispatching products in order to re-acquire them wasn't a functional definition of the middle class." It's that kind of gleefully irreverent writing that gives the novel its edge, and thus its value. A Perfectly Good Family didn't generate any belly laughs while I was reading it, but it produced enough knowing nods and soft chuckles to make me recommend it as a better-than-average comedic exploration of a family dynamic.
Keep it up, Lionel.
Shriver's "A Perfectly Good Family" was as near to a perfect novel as I have ever read. It is the story of three very different siblings who inherit their family home, a very grand southern colonial manor. A bulk of the story takes place in the home and it is very dialogue heavy. As I was reading, I kept thinking that it would really translate well into a stage play. Shriver does a fantastic job at writing tension and cutting remarks.
The novel is told from the point of view of the middle child and only girl, Corlis. Corlis spends much of the book analyzing her two brothers and dead parents, yet is very unaware of her own culpability in the family dynamic. There was one big thing about Corlis' narrative that really rang true for me, the way she described her parents. She lashed out at them and picked on their short comings. I often find myself doing the same thing regarding my mom, who passed away three years ago. I think it comes from a place of hurt and frustrating, but it can come across as callous. I'm not sure if I would have understood this part of Corlis, if I had not had personal experience.
My only negative was how the book ended. I felt like it was wrapped up a bit too neatly, although I am not sure of a better way to have ended it.
Usually I like Shriver's extremely detailed descriptions and insight into the character's thoughts and motives, but these characters were pretentious, irritating, arrogant, and uninteresting so it was really boring. I only finished it coz I usually really like her writing so I was hoping it would get better. It did, but barely. It was a nice, tidy ending, but not worth the rest of the tedium.
I'll continue to read Shriver because I do like her writing and story lines, but I wouldn't recommend this one. At all.