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Perfectly Good Family(MP3)(Unabr.) [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

Lionel Shriver
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2009
Following the death of her worthy liberal parents, Corlis McCrea moves back into her family's grand Reconstruction mansion in North Carolina, willed to all three siblings. Her timid younger brother has never left home. When her bullying black-sheep older brother moves into "his" house as well, it's war. Each heir wants the house. Yet to buy the other out, two siblings must team against one. Just as in girlhood, Corlis is torn between allying with the decent but fearful youngest and the iconoclastic eldest, who covets his legacy to destroy it. A Perfectly Good Family is a stunning examination of inheritance, literal and psychological: what we take from our parents, what we discard, and what we are stuck with, like it or not.

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"Bright with watercolor washes, the cartoon-like ink drawings ensure that book's immediate appeal... A hysterical tail - er, tale." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good characters, good feel for place and time Sept. 7 2014
By Rachel
Really interesting writer. Good characters, good feel for place and time. I look forward to future novels by this author. I find her writing direct and not overly detailed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Siblings, Siblings, oh, those Siblings Aug. 7 2007
By Jan Genovese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If anyone has ever captured the total ambivalence most siblings (who are honest) experience, it's Lionel Shriver. I did not find this book to be nearly as compelling as her astounding masterpiece "We Need To Talk About Kevin" but it has its great paragraphs, certainly. A very good friend of mine (going through adult sibling madness, as I did--I no longer speak to my two siblings) read this book after I did, and we both agreed: WE DO NOT LIKE THESE PEOPLE. We don't like them at all. This caused me to put the book down at one point in an irritated way and debate whether to continue. Almost exactly at that point, however, it got pretty absorbing--Shriver picked up her always amazing thread and I must say, the ending truly stunned me. Be warned: these people as individuals are not endearing and their various behaviors border on repugnant sometimes, but Shriver always constructs completely believeable people, and in this context, she has not failed. I'm still so struck by "Kevin" that maybe I could not do justice to this book, but it does have its own merit. I mean, when three adult siblings fight over their dead parents' house, it can't be boring.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfectly good (albeit imperfect) novel Feb. 16 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When so many modern novels are about dysfunctional families, why read another one? There are several reasons. Lionel Shriver brings a unique wit to her storytelling. Her tale is fresh and funny. She gives her characters depth but isn't oppressive about it.

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.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lionel is a modern great June 22 2008
By E. Begody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lionel Shriver's writing has made me not want to waste my time reading mediocre literature. I don't think she wants me to spend less on books, but she's definitely to blame for my snobbery.

Keep it up, Lionel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far from her best work July 9 2014
By Ms. Jared L. Greer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I didn't like this one. It was rather boring and tedious and the characters were selfish, annoying, and unlikable.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's true; these are not likable people May 15 2013
By patralink - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The premise of this novel looked so hopeful but overall it was a disappointment. The entire thing bogged down in the middle so that I found it difficult to keep picking it up.
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