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So Much for That: A Novel (P.S.) [Kindle Edition]

Lionel Shriver
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Shriver has a gift for creating real and complicated characters… A highly engrossing novel.” — San Francisco Chronicle

From New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver (The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin), comes a searing, deeply humane novel about a crumbling marriage resurrected in the face of illness, and a family’s struggle to come to terms with disease, dying, and the obscene cost of medical care in modern America.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dan John Miller's performance of Shriver's novelistic inquiry into the failures of the American health care system is not to be missed. Miller's vocal choices are perfect for every character, from Shep's elderly, New Hampshire–accented father to severely disabled teenage Flicka, whose fiery intelligence come through despite her slurred speech. When Shep explains his lifelong goal of retiring to a remote, primitive country, Miller's passionate voice, full of determination and longing, makes it clear that this is no whimsical daydream, but a desperate need that is at the very core of Shep's identity. Miller's performance explores every facet of Shriver's multilayered, flawed characters, such as Shep's wife, Glynis, who is an admirably tough, uncompromisingly honest survivor, but also stubborn, rude, and often selfish. A must-listen. A Harper hardcover.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Some critics were initially turned off at the thought of reading Shriver's latest offering because, really, how interesting can a novel about health care be? Rather than being pedantic or depressing, however, So Much for That is a thoughtful and powerful look at the effect our health policies have on middle-class Americans. It also raises the unsettling question about the worth, both financial and emotional, of a human life. While several critics thought the secondary storyline involving Shep's buddy Jackson was contrived and others felt that Shriver offered too much information on health care, most agreed that Shep and Glynis's story was "visceral and deeply affecting" (New York Times).

Product Details

  • File Size: 1337 KB
  • Print Length: 452 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061458589
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00395ZYTA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Engaging June 4, 2010
I resisted this book. I read sporadically at first, wondering if my reluctance stemmed from the topic (SO MUCH FOR THAT concerns the bell that tolls for us all) or some flaw in the novel itself. In the end, the voices pulled me in. Even in (especially in) the throes of the most extreme stress, the characters are smart cookies: frank, fast-thinking, often sarcastic, always interesting. They are so articulate, they could pass for embittered stand-up comics.

Their territory, however, is not realism à la Jodi Picoult. Lionel Shriver is the anti-Jodi Picoult (each wrote a novel about a high school killer, but how different they are!). I do not mean to malign either writer. I love Picoult's down-to-earthness, how she mixes dinner dishes, soccer games and homework with life's gravest moral and spiritual dilemmas. Shriver, however, is to Picoult what an indie film is to a Lifetime movie. In SO MUCH FOR THAT, Shriver not only nails the expected pain and grief of terminal illness, childhood disease, sexual angst and financial roulette, but also brings out their absurdity.

When Shepherd Knacker sells his handyman company (Knack of All Trades) for a cool million, he thinks he is about to realize his dream (he calls it The Afterlife): to retire to some third-world country where a well-stocked investment account can last pretty much forever. He and his wife, Glynis, have gone on "research" trips throughout their 26-year marriage, but she always finds some drawback. At 48, he can't wait any longer (he has been marking time, working as an underling at his former company and paying too much rent for a suburban house). One day he buys plane tickets to Africa. He is determined to go, with or without his family.
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71 of 84 people found the following review helpful
'So Much for That' by Lionel Shriver is a timely novel about the dire straits of our country's healthcare system. It is also a diatribe about our country's policies of taxation, what the average Joe gets in return for his taxes, and the government's rip-off of average tax payers. The novel does not spare the evils of the banking industry, corporate America, or the wealthy as they are vilified for creating an environment that harms poor workers and the middle class.

Shep had spent years building up his handyman business. It flourished, and when he sold it he received a million dollars. Naturally, close to one third of the gross payment went to the feds. Shep's dream was to use his money for what he called 'the Afterlife', his plan to settle on a remote island where he could live the rest of his days cheaply and well, utilizing the proceeds from his business. He hoped that his wife and son would join him but that remained up in the air. Meanwhile, until he could accomplish his dream of the Afterlife, he continued to work at his business, for the man to whom he'd sold it.

Just days before Shep plans to leave for an island near Zanzibar to spend the rest of his days, his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a rare and incurable type of cancer - peritoneal mesothelioma. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and Glynis figures that this exposure occurred from her exposure to Shep after he worked with asbestos or when she was an art student. She is angry at the world and not a pleasant woman. Her anger is not caused solely by the cancer; Glynis was always a difficult and angry person.

Shep doesn't realize that his medical benefits have been reduced to a pittance by the new owner of the company.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shriver lifts a curtain November 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this novel for its willingness to blow up every cliché and pre-conceived notion and TV pundit talking point associated with illness, death, and the American health care industry. I also can't believe that "So much For That" will be very popular with readers because it so boldly dismantles a notion so many hold dear: the idea of The Good Death.

The ordeal of Glynis Knacker, a fifty-year old with a diagnosis of asbestos-related cancer and access to the best care a cut-rate medical plan and her husband's sizable savings account can buy, is rendered with such detail and authority that it is as if Lionel Shriver had drawn aside a curtain to make us look at details we know are true even as we wish they weren't. Here is the World Wellness Group, a health insurance company whose minions are more concerned with denying coverage than providing it and who specialize in putting claimants on HOLD. Here are the hospital's indecipherable bills and codes for sums that bear no relationship to goods one might buy in any other marketplace. Here is the cancer specialist who speaks in military language and who sees a refusal to pursue a last-ditch, likely-to-fail drug regimen as a "defeat." Then there are Glynis's friends and family, most of whom begin to keep their distance as she becomes more ill, even though they always "mean" to visit. Finally, there is Glynis's refusal to embrace her fate and submit to the false spirituality everyone tries to impose upon her. As her disease progresses, she becomes ever more angry and difficult to live with.

As if this weren't enough, the portrait of Flicka, a teenager born with a terminal wasting disease, is stunning. I have never read any account, fiction or non-fiction, of the complex care of a handicapped child that is as true as this one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Caustic, Intense and F-ing Brilliant
Lionel Shriver is one of a small handful of authors whose work I consistently love—no matter how far one novel might stray from the next. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Sheryl Sorrentino
5.0 out of 5 stars An original story with a millionaire-next door kind of guy who will...
Lionel never disappoints with her phenomenal command of language and her ability to express emotions, settings and her great plot work. Read more
Published 1 month ago by momof3
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
Love it
Published 3 months ago by Michael Francis
3.0 out of 5 stars Cops out at the end
I basically liked the book, though it wasn't in the same league as We Need to Talk about Kevin. The last 10% ( I read this on a kindle) was so poor I never actually finished it but... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Justareader
1.0 out of 5 stars If this book is about appreciating life, then the best way to do it is...
This book just never gets better. All the author imparts is (1) healthcare is expensive, (2) a lot of people have health issues and (3) both living and dying are painful. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A.J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 4 months ago by Judith Shortridge
3.0 out of 5 stars Twisting the satirical lancet
Lionel Shriver tends to zigzag across a line between tabloid appeal and knowing satire. She dashes on journalistic coarseness like sriracha sauce. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Frank Salomon
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I was slow to appreciate the writing style, yet somewhere along the way I fell in love with the author's descriptions of characters thoughts. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JZ
4.0 out of 5 stars i really liked the rather fantastical ending
gripping and interesting; i really liked the rather fantastical ending. Lionel Shriver always writes about her characters with great depth and intelligence.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story about the unfairness of it all
As cruel and ironic as life itself. A great story about the unfairness of it all, with an unexpected silver lining.
Published 7 months ago by SwissBarb
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More About the Author

Lionel Shriver is a novelist whose previous books include Orange Prize-winner We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Post-Birthday World, A Perfectly Good Family, Game Control, Double Fault, The Female of the Species, Checker and the Derailleurs, and Ordinary Decent Criminals.

She is widely published as a journalist, writing features, columns, op-eds, and book reviews for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Marie Claire, and many other publications.

She is frequently interviewed on television, radio, and in print media. She lives in London and Brooklyn, NY.

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