What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
After loving Lionel Shriver’s amazing novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, I knew it was time to try another book by her. The Post-Birthday World is nothing like “Kevin,” but I really enjoyed it nevertheless. It has a Sliding Doors (film with Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah) similarity, with our main character Irina caught in a moment where she has to choose a fork in the road that is her life. This all hangs upon whether she kisses one man who is a famous snooker player, or remains in her current, safe but often stale relationship with Lawrence by not kissing Ramsey, the exciting alternative. Each chapter is then told from the two different decisions that she has available – sounds slightly complicated, but I loved the jumping between the two parallel worlds, to see how her life would have turned out in each case.
Okay, I’ve definitely found my new favourite author! Lionel Shriver’s writing style and attention to every minute detail is fantastic, and although at points, the characters were not particularly likeable, this added to both the uniqueness and authenticity of the story. A different event happens in each telling that makes Irina question the decision that she has made, and I feel that this gives the reader an opportunity to consider what decision they might have made in the same situation. Shriver is also insinuating that “real life” is not perfect and we all have to make difficult choices at some point, which is a gripping means to end the novel with whilst still leaving the reader with their own thoughts and questions, appealing to the “what-if” in everyone.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):