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Publisher's Summary

From the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Allergic to group activities of any kind, all her life Serenata has run, swum and cycled on her lonesome. But now that she's hit 60, all that physical activity has destroyed her knees. As she contemplates surgery with dread, her previously sedentary husband, Remington, recently and ignominiously redundant, chooses this precise moment to discover exercise.

Which should be good for his health, right? Yet as he joins the cult of fitness that seems increasingly to consume the whole of the Western world, her once-modest husband burgeons into an unbearable narcissist. Ignoring all his other obligations in the service of extreme sport, he engages a saucy, taunting Personal Trainer named Bambi, who treats his wife with contempt. When Remington announces his intention to compete in a legendarily gruelling triathlon, MettleMan, 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.

©2020 Lionel Shriver (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic 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

What listeners say about The Motion of the Body Through Space

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Truly despicable

The author creates minority characters that are awful to encourage the reader to hate minority groups. Anyone with religious views, dark skin, and basically anyone who believes in equality is a character you’re designed for you to hate. Racism and sexism are excused- Trump would love this book! If it wasn’t on my bookclub list I would have stopped reading when a character is told she should stop exercising so her husband stops beating her (leaving her husband is proposed as a fake secondary option and the character is made to feel selfish that she would choose exercise over her family).

9 people found this helpful

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Interesting but also annoying

My main issue is that the voice of the second central character, Remington, is not consistent with the character depicted. He sounds gruff and cranky and this was jarring and off putting. The voice of the main character, Serenata, was fine. Voices of all the male characters were not convincing. In this instance, a second narrator would have made a huge difference. Listeners should also be prepared for the cynicism of the author.

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Spotlight on a modern social phenomenon

I enjoy the way Shriver winds a social commentary on the pursuit of fitness around a married couple and their lives. In this story, I could see myself, friends and family so clearly in her characters that our uniqueness clearly only exists in my imagination. Unfortunately the reading wasn’t the best in my opinion and distracted me from the brilliant story.

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What an interesting listen

I was quite impressed by the observations in this book. There were some laugh out loud moments and some thought provoking moments as well. All in all an interesting listen. The narrator is excellent. Some of the characters are horrible people and some are gullible, but all of them fit together really well to make a story worth considering. Not a waste of time :)

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not my usual genre but I loved it. would recommend

not my usual genre but I loved it. would recommend
10 out of 10 give it a go

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  • Caz
  • 18-07-2021

Erudite and articulate

If you can overlook the terrible narration for the husband's character, this is a really enjoyable listen.

The protagonist, Serenata is a woman in her 60s who narrates audiobooks and maintains (maintained) an exemplary working out regime believing beyond her time that exercise is the key to longevity and good health. Her husband, Remington, only discovers the joy of exercise after forced early retirement, and after Serenata's knees have given up and need replacing. Remington takes it to the next level, much to the chagrin of his debilitated wife and her worn out knees.

The book is an all too real commentary on a marriage approaching retirement and a couple realising who the other really is while they ponder the yonder years together (or not).

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A brilliant and necessary work

Excellent narration of an entertaining and thought provoking novel about marriage and aging in a swiftly changing society.

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 21-06-2020

A coming of old age novel

I first noticed Lionel Shriver writing in the FT and assumed Lionel was an English man. Then I read her in the Spectator and discovered she was a woman. Then I read this novel and realised that she is American. In every publication and format I have been impressed with her astuteness, perception and wit, but it's been an interesting journey. I have to admit that I would, generally, be more inclined to pick up a novel by an English man than an American woman, which, in this case, would have been a shame.

Lionel is not afraid to break the conventions of modern novels and provide the despairing modern reader with what most people still want from their fiction - credible, intelligent, characters, realistic plot, a bit of action and suspense, and a lot of wry comment on how we are now - a romp through first-world problems as experienced by a long-married 60-something couple.

Narration. Professional, though I felt Buvard tried a bit too hard to give male characters deep gravelly voices. We know a narrator has to inhabit characters of the opposite sex, but there are more subtle approaches and this sounded a bit strained.


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  • A Stoic
  • 19-06-2020

Audio

I like Lionel Shriver’s books but I didn’t enjoy the audio of this book. The voices of the characters by one person putting on strange voices sounded cartoonish and was irritating. I think the audio version made this book’s characters feel quite shallow. Maybe the point but I won’t choose an audio fiction book again

6 people found this helpful

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  • Dearauntie
  • 13-05-2020

Topical Soapy Snark

It kind of reminds me of Marion Keyes. Both of them write believable, contemporary soapy family sagas and do it very well and enjoyably. But while Keyes' are bathed in warmth and gentle humour, Shriver's are hosed with acid snark.

5 people found this helpful

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  • BlackBike
  • 03-06-2020

Funny, insightful, and occasionally uncomfortable.

Shriver treads that delicate line which creates characters just flawed enough, and just likeable enough, that you want to know what happens to them. She tackles a broad range of topics in modern morality, and neatly lays out The logical fallacies and dilemmas which they create.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Helen S
  • 13-06-2020

Irritating reader!

The reader, and particularly the 'voice' she uses for the male protagonist, makes me turn this off every time I try to listen. Possibly it is a good book to read, but not for listening.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-08-2020

Had to stop reading it due to the voices - terribl

I usually love Lionel Shriver's books but I simply couldn't push on past chapter 3 of this one due to the dreadful 'popeye' voice the narrator has chosen to adopt for the main male character - doesn't anybody from the publisher listen to these recordings first

What a waste

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  • Gail Eva
  • 05-07-2020

Marred by the narration

Lionel Shriver seems to be working harder than she usually does to make this work but it's good story nonetheless. I did not like the narration. The narrator has a lovely voice but her male voices are jarring and forced.

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  • AvidReader
  • 03-07-2020

Interesting story line, annoying narration parts

The storyline was interesting, the quality of writing is good. The narration of the female characters was fine, but the male voices were butchered by a put on voice. It was difficult to listen to. It's a shame because the female characters were fine, the story line had a lot of potential.

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  • Blondie
  • 21-05-2021

Sharp, observant and very funny

I really like Shriver’s acerbic commentary on early 21st century urban life. Her characters are recognizable, rounded and vividly presented against a realistic society. Witty, snappy dialogue keeps the narrative moving at a cracking pace.

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  • jackie byers
  • 05-01-2021

Timely comment on the perils of fitness obsession

As ever, the author's choice of subject, engaging plot and acerbic writing draws me in. I love that she facilitates self reflection and questioning on highly relevant topics . All achieved with wit, and not a small amount of wisdom.
I look forward to the next contemporary issue to come under her spotlight.

1 person found this helpful

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