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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.
‘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
‘Darkly funny… Shriver is so good at making wry observations about human behaviour and this is particularly witty on the dynamics between couples who have been together a long time’ Good Housekeeping
‘Shriver is an exuberant novelist, fertile in ideas, robust in argument and disdainful of economy… She writes bold and fearless comedy and delights in slaughtering the sacred cows of the stupid times we live in. Few novelists now raise a laugh. Shriver does so time and again’ Allan Massie, The Scotsman
‘A satire on fitness zealotry with a side serving of culture-war intrigue… diverting’ Financial Times
About the author
Lionel Shriver’s novels include Sunday Times bestsellers Big Brother and The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and The Orange Prize-winning international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn.
Shriver's bitter satire of the elite exercise industry (after the collection Property) huffs along with sobering reflections on aging. Serenata Terpsichore and Remington Alabaster, married for 32 years, have recently moved to Hudson, N.Y., in the wake of Remington losing his civil engineering job in Albany. The couple's bumptious domestic bickering comes to a head after sedentary Remington, at 64, announces he will run marathon. Serenata, who's been a runner for years, scolds him for the unwelcome "incursion into her territory." Nevertheless, Remington trains, buys neon-colored running gear and a "brushed-steel, state-of-the-art" treadmill with surround sound. At the finish line, he is accompanied by Bambi Buffer, a late 30-something woman in a lavender sports bra whom Serenata derisively refers to as an "anatomy illustration." Bambi encourages Remington toward a new goal, the Lake Placid MettleMan Triathlon. With Serenata as a mouthpiece, Shriver casts her familiar brand of mordant humor at easy targets, but unlike in the work of Edward St. Aubyn, for instance, the narrator's meanness serves no apparent purpose, and the razor-sharp observation isn't balanced by self-implication. The result is underwhelming.