Property

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

Tedious, overlong short stories without a point. Not poorly written but the prose does not hook you at all and there's nothing to this wannabe literary stories to make you want to keep reading. Wouldn't recommend to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.
Was this review helpful?
Lionel Shriver has an incredible way with words, you are just pulled in to the books. 
I will definitely be reading more by this author in future.
Was this review helpful?
Not really the sort of book to sit down and read through, but definitely worth dipping into between other reading, as the stories are generally sharp, interesting and engaging.  However I did find some of the writing rather slow and ponderous at times and made me grateful not to be in the middle of a longer work by this author.  Not really my type of reading, but interesting to find this out.
Was this review helpful?
This is an intelligent book - from the language, to the character observations and even the clever sub-title (it really is short stories sandwiched between two novellas!). Few people are able to form characters like Shriver, she catches their nuances, their foibles and their strengths, and this makes their behaviour and motivations all the more believable. Some of the stories are little bloated and could've benefited from a trim, and I'm a keen reader with a good vocabulary, but I found myself reaching for the dictionary a but too much - I like the philosophy of keeping prose clear and easily understandable, not attempt to impress the reader with the breadth of your language. Still, very enjoyable, and highly recommended. 5 out of 5!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. I’m a fan of Shriver even though I get the impression she can be a bit of a literary snob. But she can write so I’m willing to overlook some flaws.  I enjoyed the two novellas The Standing Chandelier and The Subletter the most. The Standing Chandelier is the best. I loved every word. I thought The Subletter was going to be much darker than it was but I still had a great time reading it. Each story is about home and ownership and how this can affect lives, mostly in a negative way. My favourite stores from the rest were Domestic Terrorism and Vermin.
Was this review helpful?
Looking for a book to dip in and out of, rather than devote whole sunny afternoons to? This collection of short stories and novellas might be the answer. If you want fast-paced action and loathe long passages of description, it’s probably not for you. If you enjoy wry humour, detailed characterisation and stories that you’re still pondering about hours later, it’s well worth a look.
Was this review helpful?
My first introduction to Lionel Shriver was in an AS-level English class, where the theme of our reading was Nature vs. Nurture. We Need to Talk About Kevin became a focal point of the whole year as it seemed to withstand the curse of assigned reading by actually fascinating everyone. That book introduced me to the power of Shriver’s writing and especially to her ability to put the uncomfortable in the spotlight and force everyone to look at it. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to read Property: A Collection when I first saw it. Thanks to HarperCollins, The Borough Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The title of this collection is perfect, because all the stories in Property come down to ownership. Who owns what and how does that change and define us. But the stories are not just about physical property, they are also about how we own ourselves and others. There is a self-contentedness in many of Shriver’s younger characters that drive others wild. Why are you content with what you have and who you are, take some ownership of your actions, acknowledge the effect you’re having on others! (These are just some of things I wanted to shout at a few of Shriver’s characters.) Shriver has been a difficult writer for me to engage with ever since her column in the Spectator in which she lambasted the push for diversity in publishing and pushed back against “PC censorship”. That, in my opinion, narrow view contrasts sharply with the emotional intelligence of her writing, in which she articulates so clearly the topics most of us avoid. Perhaps this is why she chose to focus on the “PC culture”, but whether you agree with her or not, there is no denying that Property is a very engaging read.

The highlight of Property is the opening story, more of a novella really, ‘The Standing Chandelier’, which shows the development of a decades-long friendship between the artistic, if a bit airy-fairy, Jillian and her ex-lover Baba, who is in the process of getting settled. Shriver moves between their points of view and it is almost heartbreaking how clear it becomes that their close relationship is untenable. We can’t own the other, no matter how much of ourselves we give. Another highlight, of a different kind, is the story ‘Domestic Terrorism’, in with a 32-year old son, Liam, simply refuses to own his own life. When his parents finally kick him out the story almost descends into a farce, but Shriver’s sharp writing keeps it on the knife’s edge, bringing in political commentary on the refugee crisis and millennials (which you can read whichever way you want) as well as a close look at how family interacts. ‘Vermin’ is another favourite of mine, in which the sheer fact of house ownership drastically changes the story’s characters. Imagery-wise, this is one of the most beautiful stories in the collection for me. Not all stories in Property are equally effective. Both ‘From Paradise to Perdition’ and ‘The ChapStick’, for example, feel preachy, but in completely different ways. It feels like Shriver has an ax to grind, but with what or who exactly isn’t entirely clear.

There is a calmness to Shriver’s prose that I find myself enjoying. She is the kind of storyteller who knows exactly how ridiculous what she is describing is, but she never ruins the joke by laughing herself. Many of her stories are concerned with big emotional moments in people’s lives, yet Shriver avoids the melodrama that sometimes suffuses such stories. The only time she fails to do so is when she is trying to make a point, like mentioned above. That is when the stories lose some of their strength for me, when they become vehicles for something other than themselves. However, in general there is a clarity there that allows her to get very close to her characters’ emotions without letting them overwhelm the story. There are many laugh out loud moments in Property and many of Shriver's characters are unlikable, yet it is compelling reading nonetheless.

Shriver is a great writer and the stories in Property are a great analysis of just how tied down we are by what we own,  whether it is an object, a relationship or even just a feeling. Even if Shriver's personal beliefs sometimes bleed into the stories, they remain mostly fascinating.
Was this review helpful?
Property is a collection of short stories and novellas on the theme of property.  Each story though is unique and written in the author's incomparable style.  A worthy addition to her collection of literary works.
Was this review helpful?
I’m sorry to say this collection of short stories is not for me. Having started several and given up, I decided to abandon it. Usually I enjoy a good short story but I just couldn’t get hooked on this collection.
Was this review helpful?
A masterclass in the short story genre. Intelligent, stimulating and beautifully constructed stories all connected by the theme of property in its broadest sense come together to form the perfect collection. Read them all in one go or dip in and out - either way you won’t be disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
A superb collection that entertains and challenges all in one pretty package.

It's an interesting thought - how does the owning of property affect us?  Here Shriver takes us through a series of short (and some longish) stories that examine the question from multiple angles.  It's irrelevant whether any answers are forthcoming, as we are, of course, all affected in different ways by external influences. What matters is that we consider the question.

What matters more, of course, is how we engage with our writer and her characters.  I can't help but hear Shriver's laconic tones as she speaks - her voice is distinct, sharp and wry, but her love of human nature and of writing about it shines though.  Clever, witty, dry and loving by turns, this is a collection that you will turn to again and again.
Was this review helpful?
Two novellas and ten short stories by Lionel Shriver which are all concerned with property or possessions
Was this review helpful?
I have read everything that Lionel Shriver has published so was very excited to get a copy of Property from NetGalley. 

I wasn't disappointed! I am not much of a short story fan, but in Shriver's hands the short story genre become something special. 

Thought-provoking and fascinating, these stayed with me long after I finished reading them. Would definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting collection of short stories and novellas. I'm never quite sure about some of the author's use of idiomatic English particularly in London, but there were some interesting thoughts on property and relationships here. My favourite was the royal male, a comic story which was just the right length and I also enjoyed the dissection of a friendship in the standing chandelier
 Thank you to netgalley and Harper Collins for a copy of this book
Was this review helpful?
I'll admit I didn't expect to fully enjoy this collection of short stories – something about it made me feel as if it would be too worthy, and its length too wordy.  Some of that persisted with the opening novella, an interesting short story of 30pp padded out to 80pp, with two insecure women and the man in between them.  But from then on I was certainly hooked – generally the stories are great fun, with a pleasing lightness of touch.  The second piece, as well as 'Negative Equity' and 'The Royal Male', is definitely on the fun side, even if very few people will think the ending to the first a realistic one.  Some of the tales have very blunt conclusions ('Kilifi Creek' certainly, but also the modern ghost story of 'Repossession').

Part of the worthiness I think is because I still don't know at what stage the intention became to have a whole book of tales regarding property ownership – was it before any were written, a handful, or most?  But the book is a lot wider in reach than I expected; one above takes us to Africa, and we also get a closing novella concerning a cuckoo in Northern Ireland, which is fine except for the irony of having two American authoresses concerned with capturing Ulster on the page, as written by an American authoress concerned with capturing near-recent-history Ulster on the page.  'The Chap-Stick' is just as much about airport security as a man with power of attorney over his dying father, and we learn the truth about "boat drinks" as the cinema once called them.  But that breadth still allows for the theme to be strictly stuck to – we see how people change with home ownership, especially when raccoons are around, and you have to grin despite the sadness of an adult son reacting to the cost of living, and the relationship his father has with money.  Finally, the book shows us two very slappable characters – one, the aforementioned cuckoo, and the son in 'Domestic Terrorism', a fine story if one made awkward by the mother clearly having the right idea.

Ultimately, this book really did work, despite my initial reservations (and my being nowhere near becoming a home-owner).  It struggles to travel a little, when a lot of social and cultural reference is buried in mentions of American school- and place-names, but elsewhere this is definitely relatable.  And definitely entertaining – it's a strong contender for collection of the year.  Four and a half stars.
Was this review helpful?
12 great short stories, each one different but each one gives so much pleasure to the reader.  A very enjoyable read, each story is easy to complete the read in one sitting.  A very satisfying book and she is such a great author.  Recommended for everyone.
Was this review helpful?
I love this author’s work and I love short stories. This is a brilliant collection of short stories and a Novello. Really nice to be able to dip in and out of. I’m on holiday and it’s perfect. 
5/5 on goodreads.
Was this review helpful?
A nice quick read.  Not my typical style of story - I prefer novels.  But the stories were interesting and fast paced.  Did a good job of exploring what "property" means to different people.
Was this review helpful?
# Property # Netgalley 
Although a very interesting book, and very different to what I normally read. I actually can not say I found it intriguing. For those that like this sort of book I would imagine it would be a very very good book. As I said I found it intriguing. And I also learns a lot. Especially regarding property and why people like one sort and others would not look at.. what is. A surprise to one person is net necessary a surprise for the other one.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this - I was intrigued by the premise and found the stories entertaining and thought-provoking. They’re beautifully written and minutely observed with engaging characters and believable situations. With any collection of stories some are bound to appeal more than others. My firm favourite was Domestic Terrorism but it’s a good book to dip into and I would definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?