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3.6 out of 5 stars
Double Fault: A Novel
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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on August 30, 1998
Lionel Shriver has confronted the demons from her own divorce several years before and written about her life with a power and a brave intimacy that is all too rare in modern fiction these days. I am not aware of the details of her divorce, but suspect that her husband was more interested in a help mate than an equal partner, and that when it became clear that she was not about to give fulfilling his needs priority over her career the relationship imploded. This was devastating to Ms. Shriver, who has finally taken the vital step of facing and vanquishing her demons in Double Fault. She changed many outward facts but it seems clear that the psychological structure she develops, crystallizes and shatters in Double Fault must bear close resemblance to her own experience, as the final fifty pages deliver a tone and depth of language that must be genuine. We shall see more honest, stalwart, hard hitting fiction from Ms. Shriver in the future as she continues to grow and gain confidence in her considerable literary talent.
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on June 17, 1998
Ms. Shriver has again written a psychological drama and social commentary disguised as fiction. This book details the emotional life of two people both in fast-track careers of pro-tennis. Willy and Eric both exhibit the destructive and self-destructive behaviors of people who have made "Being the best" their top priority and the author uses this as the vehicle to expose the myth of "winners" and "losers" as well as exploring the tangled emotions that make up a close relationship between two people. She makes the connection that "winner" is sometimes only slightly separated from "loser" with a twist of self-confidence and luck. The bevy of characters are all very human and recognizable, twisting in their emotional quagmires, going through life the best they know how, as the rest of us do.
This is not an "easy" book to get through and it certainly is not fluffy reading but it is very well written and the insights are true gems telling of the human condition. This is not a book I could get through in one sitting, it took several months to slowly take in, one piece at a time. As with Ms. Shriver's other books the plot is almost incidental and relatively transparent, again describing "real life". It is more the way that she exposes and describes the very human interactions and emotions of the characters that take center stage. A well written book definitely worth reading.
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on August 25, 1997
A great book, and far bigger than its factual framework of
professional tennis. Essentially, Shriver wants to show
what can happen when a husband and wife are uncompromsingly
ambitious, which occurs more and more as women take on careers.
She succeeds brilliantly, but in the process has to depict men
and women behaving very badly indeed. It's not her fault; that's
real life. Readers who like tradtionally redemptive and redeemable
characters and happy resolutions, though, had better open their
minds before tackling DOUBLE FAULT. It's worth the effort. (The
reader from Fox River Grove might as well stick to Harlequin romances,
it seems.)

The sadness of Shriver's book is completely earned, and
it will make a sophisticated reader think hard about how to manage
life as someone else's partner. The book is written in the traditional,
realistic voice, and with impressive literary virtuosity. The
subject-matter, as mentioned, pushes the envelope. What you wind up
with is a formally disciplined, stylish novel with social guts.
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on August 1, 1997
This beautifully written, razor-sharp novel explores near-virgin

territory for literary fiction: career rivalry in the modern

marriage. Two professional tennis players, Wilhemena "Willy"

Novinsky and Eric Oberdorf -- both poignantly flawed -- fall in

love and wed, but the romance turns stormy when one fares better

than the other on the pro tour. By situating her characters in

the tennis world (rather than, say, in law practice or the

advertising biz), the author gives the story a kinetic, physical

dimension that enables the reader to feel more acutely the

characters' respective demise and ascendance. But thanks to Ms.

Shriver's total control of the subject matter and keen attention

to emotional by-play, the reader (properly) cares more about the

fate of the marriage than who "wins." Ms. Shriver nicely

tempers her grave assessment of marital competition with mordant

wit and droll walk-ons.

Although the stuff of this book is psychologically

sophisticated, the plot is so tight and the writing so fluid that

the pages just about turn themselves. I couldn't put it down.

DOUBLE FAULT is the first serious fictional treatment of a

substantial problem for Generation X. We're lucky Lionel

Shriver chose to tackle it, since I doubt that subsequent

writers will be able to improve on her effort.
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on August 27, 1997
This book has a lot of edge. It starts like an idyllic romance
and ends like film noir. The transition occurs gracefully -- through
powerful writing, a well-crafted plot, and characters who act as
ugly (i.e., as human) as real people do. The guileless myth of the
trouble-free two-career marriage takes a beating, but it's about
time. Shriver's choice of pro tennis as the arena for the couple's
professional rivalry leavens the story considerably, but also makes
the pain Shriver articulates more vivid by contrast. While the
author's outlook may be grim, the story is constructive because it
offers a clear lesson. On the page, the tennis action is exciting
and deftly conveyed, so the book reads easily. All in all, a very
successful union of literary novel and psychodrama. I highly recommend this book.
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An avid tennis player I am when I picked up a copy of "Double Fault" which clearly stated on the inside cover that it was a novel about an even harder sport- love and marriage. So begins the in depth, realistic love story/tennis story of two sometimes interesting, sometimes intelligent, sometimes spoiled characters Eric and Willy. I like this story highly because it seems very possible for such events to happen when you combine love and career into the same relationship. The ups and downs, the jealousies, the competitive drive of the heart to win or succeed, often overlooking the more important things in life.
It begins with how they meet and leaves you like all great novels do...a little bit hanging.
I'm sure Andre and Steffi have read this one!
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