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The Female of the Species: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, August 4, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Structured in a circular way, beginning and ending on Gray Kaiser's 60th birthday, this novel gathers momentum as it goes. Gray, a preeminent anthropologist living in Boston, famous for her studies of matriarchal societies in Africa, is a majestic, independent woman. In her late middle age, she falls in love for the first time with a cruel, much younger man, Raphael Sarasola, who is obviously using her for her money and connections. Errol McEchern, the long-time associate who has pined for Gray for years, subjugating his own needs to be with her, narrates the drama while, simultaneously, being deeply involved in it. What he does not witness, he invents; he relates Gray's first expedition to Africa, where she met Charles Corgie, Raphael's predecessor, as well as the story of Raphael's adolescence living in an abandoned factory in North Adams. As Gray transforms before Errol's eyes from a vibrant, brilliant scholar to a helpless, lovestruck victim, Errol begins to get glimmers of insight into his own failings and inability to extricate himself from the destructive triangle. The quality and vividness of Errol's imagination is a tribute to Shriver's own; the pieces fall neatly and compellingly into place. This is a confident first novel and a consuming one.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Gray Kaiser is a renowned anthropologist whose career took off when she discovered a remote African village lorded over by white man Corgie, whose plane crash had convinced the locals that he was a god. Now 59, Gray returns to Il-Ororen to make a film of the village as it was, with the help of her 40-ish assistant Errol. Their lives become entangled with Raphael, the 25-year-old grad student whose uncanny resemblance to Corgie makes him the star of the film and eventually Gray's first lover. This is a remarkable book: it is at once full of very predictable plot turns, yet compelling to read; the three main characters are often cliched and transparent, yet they are striking, original, memorable characters. Fascinating and warmly recommended, though perhaps not for those whose taste runs to sophisticated fiction. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006171139X
  • ASIN: B003L1ZXBG
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,190,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Melissa McCauley VINE VOICE on June 28, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel centers around the larger-than-life Gray Kaiser, a queenly anthropologist who is famous for stumbling upon a previously unknown aboriginal culture in the heart of the jungle. What makes her famous is that another white person stumbled upon them first, Charles Corgie, a handsome charlatan who had the tribe believing he was a god. Instead of blowing Corgie's cover, Gray stayed on in the village as his co-goddess and observed the interplay until the bitter end. (This episode is deserving of a book in its own right, and I was disappointed that it was only a few chapters.)

In late middle age, the eternally youthful Gray is firmly established in the university system, queen of all she surveys, worshipped as a goddess by her assistant, Erroll. Then Raphael Sarasota enters the picture. Through this young man who looks so much like Corgie, Gray is able to unleash her sexual fantasies and finally finds that she actually needs another human being. A large part of the narrative is made up of Erroll's clever fantasies about Gray and Raphael. Raphael uses and discards Gray, who is painfully oblivious despite everyone's warnings. Ms. Shriver again masterfully describes the inner workings of a difficult, perhaps even unlikable, character. For another fabulously written character study, read WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book, Schriever's first published book, is an interesting example of a relatively young person trying to capture the feelings of a once beautiful woman who is trying to assess her attractiveness to men as she ages. While the book is interesting, as a more mature woman, L believe Schreiver's assumptions about the feelings of older women, men and sex are way off base. However, is was very interesting to see, having read mnost of Schreiver's recent writings, how wonderfully she has matured as an author.
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I love Lionel shriver novels but really struggled to engage with the characters. I simply did not care (first rule) and therefore did not finish it. Maybe it was worth it in the end but I am yet to find out.
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Yes, I loved this book, even though I am crippled by the possibility that even the strongest woman is powerless when confronted by an attractive, younger man who seems entranced by her. So sad, but the sub-plots are great. The jungle section, could have been so much more a part of the story. The electricity we all felt in Kenya was undeniable, perhaps deserving of more chapters. Rapheal's own history was another fascinating side plot - even though once coupled with Gray his character seemed to weaken - or did we just stop liking him because of Errol's angst??
Either way, compulsive reading, and so different to Kevin (why did they ruin it by making that dreadful movie??) - so different also to Post Birthday World, So Much For That, and many others. Lionel's list of fabulous books goes on and on. All so different, all so strong. Read this book.
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Grey is a fascinating woman. She is strong and has a dominant position in archeology, a world dominated by men. Yet she falls for Raphael, a man who then all but destroys her. As the story progresses, we are told the story of her eccentric relationship from her early days. She had remained in the field and become enmeshed with a mercurial man who had established himself as a Demi- god.. I think thar shrivel does a difficult job of explicating the story of a woman who trips on herself.
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I was given "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by a friend and I couldn't put it down, so when I finished that novel I went looking for more of Shriver's work. "The Female of the Species" was the next one I read and I found Shriver to be an absorbing wordsmith and fantastic storyteller. I am looking forward to reading all of her works!
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book when it first came out and I loved it. I lent my copy to a friend, and for years it remained absent from my bookshelf. I came across it again in a second-hand shop and bought it to reread. It is as good the second time around. The characters are so real, and you can easily imagine how each one came to the exact point in their lives where paths cross in the story. I can't believe this book hasn't gotten more attention over the years. A classic in my library. Don't miss it!
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Well-- this is probably not the best time to write a review-- I am a BINGE READER-- i love what an author writes and then I go and read EVERYTHING he/she has written-- and because I read the Kevin book, i went on to read this one and another of her books in succession. This one was kind of lame. I didn't care for the characters the way I did in her other books (the other one I did like was The Perfectly Good Family-- i really liked that one)

I don't recommend this one, the characters are vapid, Mostly the ending left me feeling nothing-- not anything more or less (like troubled, or disagreed, provocative etc) than when I started -(which is a hallmark of a good book at the very least)--

The woman protagonist was kind of spectacularly idiotic-- and i so wanted to relate to relate to her in any way (as a woman, as a professional woman, as anything- but i just COULD NOT)

The writing was lame like a old school romance novel or something-- it was just not worth it

This is probably not the most helpful review but I recommend getting this on a deal buy or something, bc it's just not as well written, the plot is shaky-- well it just was not that great.
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