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Property: A Collection

Narrated by: Lionel Shriver
Length: 14 hrs and 10 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Summary

The first ever story collection from the inimitable Lionel Shriver.

This landmark publication, the first collection of stories from a master of the form, explores the idea of 'property' in both senses of the word: real estate and stuff. These sharp, brilliantly imaginative pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.

In the stunning novella 'The Standing Chandelier', a woman with a history of attracting other women’s antagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his wife-to-be. 

In 'Domestic Terrorism', a 30-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a stand-off that renders him a millennial cause célèbre. 

In 'The ChapStick', a middle-aged man subjugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. 

In 'Vermin', an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once passionate relationship. 

In 'The Subletter', two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either.

This immensely listenable collection showcases the biting insight that has made Lionel Shriver one of the most acclaimed authors of our time.

©2018 Lionel Shriver (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

Praise for The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047: "Shriver’s intelligence, mordant humour and vicious leaps of imagination all combine to make this a novel that is as unsettling as it is entertaining." (Financial Times)

"As ever, Shriver cuts close to the bone!... Distinctly chilling." (The Independent)

"A tale that fizzes with ideas and jokes.... the comedy is pitch black." (The Times)

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Love Lionel but not as a narrator

Absolutely adore this author and having listened to her speak at various festivals and having read almost everything she’s written, I am almost relieved that there is something she is not brilliant at! Actually stopped listening to this and will read instead. Would not however put me off listening to anything from her in future - she’s brilliant - just as long as she doesn’t narrate it if British accents are required!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Say what?

I normally love her novels, esp Kevin and later, but this is a strange affair. Most of the endings are visible from the beginning, as if you climbed a tree with binoculars not a handsaw. But the main fault isn't the stories themselves but Shriver's lack of aptitude as a voice artist. Why did she do it? A bigger royalty share? It is hopeless. Normally a monotone, she leavens the drudgery with accent and dialect, but she can't do accent and dialogue. One character was supposed to be somehow gaelic I felt, because he said wee for small. But I have no clue what flavour. Probably not Breton. Another had a crazy hybrid of West Country, Australian, working class London and speech impediment. It was way too poor and annoying to be comically hapless. At times it was actively intrusive as you really don't know what the characters say. Her attempt at a child's voice was like someone who'd only seen children from a distance. Her talent as a voice artist is only surpassed by her efforts as a cultural diplomat. Her editors and producer are to blame. Would they have let her typeset the print? Code the Kindle? Drive the delivery van. Just say no.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a very clever collection

I really enjoyed property . it was a clever idea to base a whole book of stories around one theme. All perspectives were covered. one disappointment was Lionel's narration. I usually love having the author read but she just doesn't have the voice for it and her accents were very off.

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The accents, oh the accents!!

I LOVE Lionel. I've read/listened to so much of her work over and over again and having already read this collection I was excited to order it. The stories are great, but THE ACCENTS! It really detracted from the story as it was totally impossible to listen to any 'British' dialogue without total incredulity. What a shame- I can't believe no-one picked her up on it!!! Lots of the stories don't have British characters though- those ones are awesome.

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Shriver's writing is wonderful, I love it.

Shriver's writing is wonderful, I love it. I still love this collection of short stories and really glad I bought it despite the dreadful accents Shriver attempts- as a native English person I cannot work out where most of them are supposed to be from, they really are Dick Van Dyke bad. Thankfully mostly she reads in her own accent and reads well.

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Narrator should really stick to writing !

Irish and ' Cotswolds' accents were off-putting or downright painful. Had to skip over the story with a 'Cotswolds' accent as it was so excruciating. Great writer but shockingly bad narrator :(

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Domestic territorial conflict

14 hours is a long download – 10 short stories book-ended with 2 longish novellas, all on the theme of possession and rights, whether over property or another human being.

Lionel Shriver is undeniably razor-sharp and strident in her robust opinions on topics of the moment such as immigration, religion, property owning and the shortcomings of the millennial smart-phone generation, but the trouble with creating fiction as a vehicle to expound on these opinions and observations is that the characters Shriver creates (and there are a great many of them) are almost without exception unpleasant, unkind, unappealing, unsympathetic, uncompromising people.

There are plenty of sharp observations on marital and family relationships and the madness of aspects of today’s society, but 14 hours is a very long time to spend in these characters’ unrelieved company and Shriver’s entirely appropriate but unpleasant, grating, harsh, hard voice doesn’t make the experience any more enjoyable. Some of the stories are set in the UK and hearing the attempt of strongly American Shriver to speak like her idea of rough English speakers is one of the worst audio performances I’ve ever heard in my long audio-listening life!

The best, set in Africa,is KIlifi Creek, even though the arrogant, ignorant, selfish millennial protagonist is thoroughly unlikeable: a well-structured and memorable short story.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 22-11-19

Great narration

In case anyone’s worried about the reviews that say the narration isn’t good, don’t worry them. It’s excellent. The author reads this collection clearly, engagingly and, most importantly, in her own tone. I’m very pleased Lionel Shriver recorded this book herself and hope she does the same for any future audiobooks she releases.