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The Motion of the Body Through Space

by Lionel Shriver

Book Club Recommendations 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

All her life Serenata has run, swum, and cycled - but now that she's hit 60, all that physical activity has destroyed her knees. And her previously sedentary husband Remington chooses this precise moment to discover exercise.

As he joins the cult of fitness, her once-modest husband burgeons into an unbearable narcissist. When he announces his intention to compete in a legendarily gruelling triathlon, 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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Closing date: 30/06/2021

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The Motion of the Body Through Space Press 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

'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

'Mischievous Lionel Shriver takes aim at the narcissistic modern cult of exercise. When Serenata's usually sedentary husband, Remington, takes up exercise and engages an attractive personal trainer called Bambi, the couple's lives are turned upside down.' The Times Best Books for Summer 2020

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007560813
Publication date: 15/04/2021
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

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

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007560813
Publication date: 15th April 2021
Author: Lionel Shriver
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 368 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, 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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