The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver

I read a few reviews after reading this book, and few of them agreed with the next. Either it was ‘depressing’ , because of the role fate seems to play, or it was liberating for the same reason. My opinion falls into the latter category.

The story goes like this: A woman, Irina, is in her early forties,  and has been with her partner for almost 10 years. She loves him. But suddenly, another man intrigues her. The book then splits into 2 paths–one, she stays with her partner, and two, she goes for it with another bloke. That’s the crux of it.

Both stories start and finish the same. This is what all the reviews were debating. Is it horrible to think that all of our choices will result in the same outcome?–is what more than one person asked. That’s not what this book is about. Its about understanding yourself, accepting your choices, and dealing with the results no matter what. The PATH always changes (ok, with some parallels) depending on her decisions. And if you read closely, her situation seems the same in the culmination of both stories, but she is a different person at the end of EACH story. Its the experiences and choices that shape her, not the outcome.

All told, I really didn’t find any of the characters terribly appealing. Both the men are stereotypes–her longterm partner is a semi-controlling, emotionally unavailable, but is still crazy reliable. The new guy is a snooker player, so into sport, and seems sex crazy. However, to be fair, we only see these men through Irina’s eyes, and how they react to Irina.  This is how she sees her lovers, perhaps its how she sees men in general.


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