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The Motion of the Body Through Space

by Lionel Shriver

Book Club Recommendations Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Family Drama Literary Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories

LoveReading View on The Motion of the Body Through Space

“For the last thirty-two years, you’ve not once trotted out for a run around the block. And now you tell me with a straight face that you want to run a marathon.” So begins this scathingly amusing novel that sees 64-year-old Remington - recently forced to retire early after an unsavoury employment tribunal – develop an unhealthy obsession with extreme exercise and his hideously competitive trainer, Bambi.

Remington’s wife, sixty-year-old Serenata has always been a solitary exerciser (“I find large numbers of people doing the same thing in one place a little repulsive”), so the fact that her “husband had joined the mindless lookalikes of the swollen herd” comes as a shock, and an insensitive affront too, given that she was recently compelled to give up a lifetime of running after a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in both knees.

Their spiteful bickering begins immediately, with neither party displaying themselves in a favourable light. Indeed, both characters are largely unlikeable, which makes their sniping all the more entertaining. Remington bemoans accusations of privilege, thus revealing said privilege: “I’m a little tired of being told how ‘privileged’ I am... How as a member of the ‘straight white patriarchy’ I have all the power. I’m supposedly so omnipotent, but I live in fear, less like a man than a mouse.”  

After (eventually) crossing the finish line of his first marathon, Remington signs-up for a gruelling triathlon, with his farcical persistence in spite of serious incidents and injuries making this novel both hilarious and excruciatingly cringe-worthy, albeit with an unexpectedly bittersweet upshot.

Joanne Owen

The Motion of the Body Through Space Synopsis

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.

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The Motion of the Body Through Space Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

Enthusiasm or obsession? Contempt or concern? A story of a marriage's reaction to the effects of age on the body. Full review

Suzanne James

Which is more painful, entering an extreme sporting event or living with someone who is entering one? Ms Shriver has once again excelled at portraying the raw emotions of characters pushed to the absolute limit both physically and mentally. Full review

Annette Woolfson

Exploration of the unexpected changes in relationships and the challenges of ageing well. Full review

Barbara Gaskell

Lionel Shriver's turn of phrase is an art form in this exploration of obsession, jealously and - ultimately - stoic love. Full review

Tiffany Chevis

Lionel Shriver has done it again! Ultra fitness freaks, religious zealots, drug pushers and physical decrepitude, Serenata has it all to deal with in this well written and intelligent book. Full review

Sue Packer

This is a dry and very witty observation of a long marriage, of ageing, of the need to belong, and of the obsession that drives ordinary people to take on extraordinary fitness challenges. Full review

Alison Burns

A well-observed and witty commentary on Western Society's vain obsession with fighting ageing by taking up extreme sport in later life and the effect this has on a marriage. Full review

Susan Coleman

Interesting. Thought-provoking. A very interesting tale about an enduring relationship told with humour. Full review

Leisa-Michelle Hodson

It is an acerbic study of everyday people displaying obsessive characteristics and is, unfortunately, totally and depressingly believable. Full review

Natasha Wise

Ageing, marriage, fitness obsessions and an awful lot more....all tackled with Lionel Shriver's shining intelligence and biting wit. Full review

Jan Payne

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That Reminds Me
The God Child
Mr Wilder and Me
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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007560783
Publication date: 07/05/2020
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007560783
Publication date: 7th May 2020
Author: Lionel Shriver
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Fiction & related items,

About Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Other books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and So Much for That. Lionel’s novels have been translated into twenty-five different languages and. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.

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