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Summary

From the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Allergic to group activities of any kind, all her life Serenata has run, swum and cycled on her lonesome. But now that she's hit 60, all that physical activity has destroyed her knees. As she contemplates surgery with dread, her previously sedentary husband, Remington, recently and ignominiously redundant, chooses this precise moment to discover exercise.

Which should be good for his health, right? Yet as he joins the cult of fitness that seems increasingly to consume the whole of the Western world, her once-modest husband burgeons into an unbearable narcissist. Ignoring all his other obligations in the service of extreme sport, he engages a saucy, taunting Personal Trainer named Bambi, who treats his wife with contempt. When Remington announces his intention to compete in a legendarily gruelling triathlon, MettleMan, Serenata is sure he's going to end up injured or dead, but the stubbornness of an ageing man in Lycra is not to be underestimated.

The story of an obsession, of a marriage, of a betrayal: The Motion of the Body Through Space is Lionel Shriver at her hilarious, sharp-eyed, audacious best.

©2020 Lionel Shriver (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Enjoyably abrasive...a compelling read...sardonic and elegant." (Evening Standard)  

"Scabrously funny...few authors can be as entertainingly problematic as Shriver." (Guardian

"With laugh-out-loud and sad moments, it’s a pinpoint-sharp novel." (Woman and Home

What listeners say about The Motion of the Body Through Space

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A coming of old age novel

I first noticed Lionel Shriver writing in the FT and assumed Lionel was an English man. Then I read her in the Spectator and discovered she was a woman. Then I read this novel and realised that she is American. In every publication and format I have been impressed with her astuteness, perception and wit, but it's been an interesting journey. I have to admit that I would, generally, be more inclined to pick up a novel by an English man than an American woman, which, in this case, would have been a shame.

Lionel is not afraid to break the conventions of modern novels and provide the despairing modern reader with what most people still want from their fiction - credible, intelligent, characters, realistic plot, a bit of action and suspense, and a lot of wry comment on how we are now - a romp through first-world problems as experienced by a long-married 60-something couple.

Narration. Professional, though I felt Buvard tried a bit too hard to give male characters deep gravelly voices. We know a narrator has to inhabit characters of the opposite sex, but there are more subtle approaches and this sounded a bit strained.


7 people found this helpful

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Audio

I like Lionel Shriver’s books but I didn’t enjoy the audio of this book. The voices of the characters by one person putting on strange voices sounded cartoonish and was irritating. I think the audio version made this book’s characters feel quite shallow. Maybe the point but I won’t choose an audio fiction book again

6 people found this helpful

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Topical Soapy Snark

It kind of reminds me of Marion Keyes. Both of them write believable, contemporary soapy family sagas and do it very well and enjoyably. But while Keyes' are bathed in warmth and gentle humour, Shriver's are hosed with acid snark.

5 people found this helpful

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Funny, insightful, and occasionally uncomfortable.

Shriver treads that delicate line which creates characters just flawed enough, and just likeable enough, that you want to know what happens to them. She tackles a broad range of topics in modern morality, and neatly lays out The logical fallacies and dilemmas which they create.

4 people found this helpful

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Irritating reader!

The reader, and particularly the 'voice' she uses for the male protagonist, makes me turn this off every time I try to listen. Possibly it is a good book to read, but not for listening.

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Had to stop reading it due to the voices - terribl

I usually love Lionel Shriver's books but I simply couldn't push on past chapter 3 of this one due to the dreadful 'popeye' voice the narrator has chosen to adopt for the main male character - doesn't anybody from the publisher listen to these recordings first

What a waste

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Marred by the narration

Lionel Shriver seems to be working harder than she usually does to make this work but it's good story nonetheless. I did not like the narration. The narrator has a lovely voice but her male voices are jarring and forced.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting story line, annoying narration parts

The storyline was interesting, the quality of writing is good. The narration of the female characters was fine, but the male voices were butchered by a put on voice. It was difficult to listen to. It's a shame because the female characters were fine, the story line had a lot of potential.

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Sharp, observant and very funny

I really like Shriver’s acerbic commentary on early 21st century urban life. Her characters are recognizable, rounded and vividly presented against a realistic society. Witty, snappy dialogue keeps the narrative moving at a cracking pace.

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Timely comment on the perils of fitness obsession

As ever, the author's choice of subject, engaging plot and acerbic writing draws me in. I love that she facilitates self reflection and questioning on highly relevant topics . All achieved with wit, and not a small amount of wisdom.
I look forward to the next contemporary issue to come under her spotlight.

1 person found this helpful