The Post-Birthday World – Lionel Shriver

The BookDepository

I loved We Need to Talk About Kevin, so was really looking forward to reading this one. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to expectations, but was still a great read.

The Post-Birthday World follows Irina, who is in a long term relationship with Lawrence. One night Lawrence is away and Irina goes to dinner with Ramsey, her friend’s ex-husband. The first chapter ends with Irina almost kissing Ramsey. The book then splits into two sections. Alternating chapters show Irina in parallel worlds. In one world she kisses Ramsey that night, whereas in the other she doesn’t. It is a great idea for a book, and shows how one tiny decision can have a massive effect on your life.

The main focus of the book is relationships. I loved the detailed analysis of how couples interact with each other and the character observations. Every character was well formed and behaved realistically. I have to admit that I got bored by Ramsey’s snooker playing (I’m not a big fan!) but I guess we’re are meant to, as we are supposed to be empathising with Irina, who also has to endure watching the snooker.

I was going to say that the book felt very dated, but it progressed to end only a few years ago. The first half of the book was set in 1996/1997 and the news stories and technology were very obvious. I guess the fact it felt so dated was actually the great skill of Lionel Shriver in setting the scene for that period in history so accurately. It feels weird saying that a book set only 12 years ago feels dated, but when you are reading about small news items, which I have long since forgotten about, it really shows.

I also felt that the book was a bit long. By the half way point the novelty of the two different worlds had worn off, and I began to get bored by having to read the same events happening twice, but from the two different perspectives. I felt that the book could have benefitted from losing about 200 of it’s 500 pages.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, but if you only read one Lionel Shriver book, make sure it is We Need to Talk About Kevin.

stars4

 

Warning: This book contains many scenes of a sexual nature, so avoid it if you don’t like that sort of thing.

I have heard that these are the best two Lionel Shriver books. Have you read any of the others? If so, are they as good?


Send to Kindle

17 Comments

  1. Sandy says:

    This is the only book I’ve ever read by this author, but I thought her writing was brilliant. Based on your glowing recommendations, I know I will read “We Need to Talk About Kevin”. This book, though, was one of my favorites in the last five years. I loved the premise, as it pandered to the fantasy of “what if”. I loved the irony of the events between the two alternate worlds. I laughed out loud, alot. I was so tickled and impressed with the whole thing that I thought it ended too quickly! I guess our different opinions make the world go ’round, but four stars from you is respectable!

  2. Jackie says:

    Sandy – I will be interested to see how much you like Kevin. I thought this book just wasn’t as good. The writing was still great, and I agree – I did find some bits really funny, but there were long sections which failed to grab my attention. 4 stars is still a good score from me, so don’t be too disappointed that I’m not raving about it.

  3. Nicole says:

    I loved We Need to Talk about Kevin and I plan on reading this one. Lionel Shriver strikes me as a very smart writer, but I think it would be hard to follow up on Kevin. That’s probably her defining book, and even from that I can see that she tends to write in the long side. Looking forward to reading this one.

  4. Steph says:

    Well, you know I really enjoyed Kevin (apart from a few writing tics that bugged me), so I’ve been intrigued by this one (but of course, a little apprehensive as well). I think I probably will give it a go, but I might borrow it rather than buy it.

    If you like the premise of the book then you should check out the Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors”, which has the same premise (and is also a great movie anyway!).

  5. Jennifer says:

    I also enjoyed We Need to Talk about Kevin. I still find myself thinking about a year or more after having read it.

  6. Louise says:

    I still haven’t read the Kevin book, but now I am putting it on my Amazon wishlist, which I have decided will also funtion as a combined TBR/Wishlist instead of all the small pieces of paper I have lying around….then I just need to remember to take the book off the wishlist if I read it :) Have a great weekend

  7. Jackie says:

    I loved Sliding Doors, although it has been ages since I’ve seen it. I guess it is time for a re-watch!

    I don’t think I’ll be thinking about Post Birthday World in a few years time, but I think Kevin will stay with me forever. I look forward to hearing what you all think of this one though. It is still quite good.

  8. I agree with you on the length thing — I liked this book, but it was just a little bit too long. The novelty sort of wore off after awhile. I’ve never read anything else by her though, maybe someday.

  9. I haven’t read this. To be honest, it didn’t make my list either. I absolutely loved Kevin. Read it back in 2006, and it was probably my favorite book that year. However, I read ‘Double Fault’ sometime last year, and it just failed to grab me, As far as I remember, there was a tennis game described, serve by serve. I love tennis, but… I think that was pushing it. Maybe, at some level I expected it to wow me as much as Kevin did, but it just didn’t.

    Again, going by our not-so-similar likes in books, this should probably encourage you to read ‘Double Fault’. :) )

  10. Karen says:

    I really loved We Need To Talk About Kevin but for some reason I have kept steering myself away from this one – just don’t seem as interested in the plot etc… I wish she would bring out a new book though as her writing was brilliant!

  11. Carrie K. says:

    I enjoyed The Post-Birthday World as well – and I also agree that it went a bit long. I haven’t read We Need to Talk About Kevin, but have had it on my to-read list for a while.

  12. Jackie says:

    Kim – I’m pleased it’s not just me. Sometimes I think it is just my impatience, but a good book shouldn’t evoke those feelings.

    uncertainprinciples – I have heard that Double Fault is the worst of her books, and I don’t like tennis, so I think I’ll give it a miss.

    Karen – The plot PBW didn’t interest me as much as Kevin either. It was the parenting aspects of Kevin that made it so good for me.

    Carrie – I hope you read WNTAK soon, as it is amazing. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  13. Heather says:

    This is on my tbr stack as I loved We Need to Talk About Kevin. I’m sorta disappointed in your thinking it doesn’t quite live up to Kevin, but I’m definitely still planning on reading it soon.

  14. Jenners says:

    I’ve read three Shriver books –this one, “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and Double Fault. I loved Kevin the best, then this one and was really disappointed in Double Fault so I think what you heard may be true!

  15. Jackie says:

    Heather – This is still a pretty good book, but as Jenners states I think the rest might be worth avoiding.

  16. Joanna says:

    I’ve only read We need to talk about Kevin, which I thought was fantastic, and haven’t tried anything else by this author
    because I didn’t think anything could measure up! :-)

  17. Jackie says:

    Joanna – I’m afraid that I don’t think anything else can measure up. Perhaps she’ll write another one which comes close though!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Links I’ve stumbled across this week – Farm Lane Books Blog

Leave a Reply