So Much For That

So Much For That: A Novel - Lionel Shriver

Shep Knacker has long saved for "the Afterlife," an idyllic retreat in the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Exasperated that his wife, Glynis, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go, Shep finally announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her. Yet Glynis has some news of her own: she's deathly ill. Shep numbly puts his dream aside, while his nest egg is steadily devastated by staggering bills that their health insurance only partially covers. Astonishingly, illness not only strains their marriage but saves it.

From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver comes a searing, ruthlessly honest novel. Brimming with unexpected tenderness and dry humor, it presses the question: How much is one life worth?


This is the third novel I have read by Lionel Shriver and although I liked it on the surface, I found it to be a weak follow up to the other two novels I had previously read (We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post Birthday World). 


I liked the story, and the characters...especially the secondary characters and plotlines. Perhaps it has to do with age/maturity but I found this novel to be a lot easier to read than I did the other two but I suspect that it was written in a more simplistic way then what I have come to expect from a Shriver novel. In fact, immediately after reading the final page I had very nearly awarded this a four star rating but instead I decided to let it stew in my head for a few days (or well, over a month) and I decided that it was not worthy of four stars. And probably three stars is generous. 


When I thought it over, I realized that Lionel Shriver had written this not as an attempt to write a solid novel...but to give herself an outlet to commentate on the state of healthcare at the time of writing this novel. There were more than a few soap box moments throughout the book that just felt artificial. I agreed with them, so at first they didn't bother me but when I had finished the book and thought about it I realized how distracting and ill crafted they were. 


Political commentary aside, I did think that this could have been a well crafted novel. It had a really good premise, some interesting side characters with interesting stories of their own....but unfortunately the commentary distracted the reader from the jem this novel could have been.