Lionel Shriver excels at taking ordinary lives and using them to tell an extraordinary story. In this instance we have a middle-aged woman, married, successful, possibly happy, who finds herself at odds with her husband when she is forced to take in her older brother, a former jazz musician with something of a weight problem.
Looking through her eyes, I found her observations about her brother and how the world sees him an extraordinarily compelling read. Shriver tells the story beautifully, using her precise and somewhat poetic style, and weaving in a whole Social Science case study that examines our attitudes to the chronically obese, and how we view the consumption of food. Having read it, I don’t think I’ll view cookery programmes in the same light ever again: at the end of the day, it’s all just fuel.
The characters are meticulously drawn and remain true and constant from start to end, driving a plot that makes it hard to put the book down. A writing master class.
If I would make one complaint, and this really is just a personal opinion, I thought the ending was a little bit disappointing; not so much the outcome, just the way it was staged.
Still, a great read, and highly recommended. Pretty much what I’ve come to expect from Ms Shriver.