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Larry's Party by Carol Shields

Larry's Party

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This won the Orange Prize for fiction back in 1997. We follow Larry through the maze (a subject on which he becomes very astute) of his life, his relationships, his work, physical changes – all is laid bare. A great novel told with surprising insight and clarity.

A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher...

Detailing the life of landscape designer Larry Weller from the late seventies through to the late nineties, this is a brilliant and hilarious insight into just how much the concept of ‘being a man’ has changed over such a short period of time. Seamlessly weaving together different episodes in Larry’s (seemingly very ordinary) life, in Larry’s Party Carol Shields excels in making the mundane seem magnificent. Spellbindingly intricate, completely original and sometimes ingeniously funny, this Orange Prize winning novel is a genuine modern classic.

If you like Carol Shields you might also like to read books by Annie Proulx and Louise Erdrich.


Larry's Party by Carol Shields

The new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Stone Diaries'. Larry's Party is about being a man in this part of the twentieth century, when so many supports have been removed, and covers the life of its protagonist, Larry, between the ages of 27 and 47, from 1977 to 1997, and illustrates how men have had to change; it looks at how you define masculinity in the post-feminist world. Two strands run through the book: work and goodness. The chapters are at once independent of each other and yet connected, with titles like: Larry's Friends, Larry's Look, Larry's Kid, Larry's Folks, Larry's Love, Larry's Penis, Larry's Speech, Men called Larry, Larry's Alternate, Larry's Party, Larry's Real Life Life, Larry So Far, Old Larry.


'A brilliant fictional reflection on what it may be like to be a man in the late 20th-century.'
Penelope Lively, Independent

'Altogether a cause for celebration.'
Anita Brookner, Spectator

'There is a moving sensation that somehow leaves one grappling for the single word to describe it. Poignant? Touching? Oh you know, the real thing.'
Harpers and Queen

'No more richly satisfying novel, to my knowledge, has been published this year!Shields demonstrates once again her extreme mastery of emotional geometry.'
Sunday Telegraph

'This is, like all of Shields's work, filled with warmth and understanding.'
The Times

Sunday Times

About the Author

Carol Shields was born and grew up in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. She was the third child of a sweet-factory manager and a schoolteacher.

After Hanover College, Indiana, she won a place on an exchange programme with Exeter University. There she found a more academic atmosphere, in which she thrived, and a Canadian engineering graduate student, whom she subsequently married.

Over the next ten years or so she moved around Canada with her husband, had five children, came back to England (Manchester) for three years, and wrote the occasional short story. Age twenty-nine, she wrote seven poems for a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Young Writers' Competition – and won. There followed a period of poetry writing, a master's programme in English at the University of Ottawa, a thesis on Susanna Moodie, a 19th-century Canadian fiction writer and two books of poetry, Others and Intersect. The week she turned forty her first novel Small Ceremonies, was published, her thesis was accepted for publication, and she was about to leave for a year in France during her husband's sabbatical. There she immediately started her second novel, The Box Garden.

She published two collections of short stories as well as six novels. Mary Swann was the first to be published in the UK in 1990, followed by Happenstance, which combined two earlier novels published separately, in 1991 and The Republic of Love in 1992. The Stone Diaries was published in August 1993, and was short-listed for the Booker Prize. It is now a bestselling paperback, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in April 1995. Various Miracles, a collection of short stories, was published to critical rapture in November 1994, and her first two novels, Small Ceremonies and The Box Garden, saw their first UK publication in February and June 1995 respectively.

In August 1997 her novel Larry's Party was published by Fourth Estate, and went on to win the UK's coveted Orange Prize for Women's Fiction in May 1998. A new collection of short fiction, Dressing Up for the Carnival, was published in February 2000. Her last novel, Unless, was published in the UK in 2002 by Fourth Estate and went on to be shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize.

Carol Shields passed away in July 2003.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th May 1998


Carol Shields

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


352 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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