Posted by: Corri van de Stege | May 22, 2011

I was wrong about ‘So Much For That’ (Lionel Shriver)

Cover of "So Much for That: A Novel"

Cover of So Much for That: A Novel

Yes, I take back what I said in my previous post: I think the book is much better than I gave it credit for.  I’m still right about the first few chapters: I think they are all over the place,   as if she is not sure where it’s all going to go, as if she wants to impress on us readers that this is a book that has something to say.  But once you are through those first chapters, it gets better.  The sales assistant in Waterstones said as much when I mentioned that I was reading this book and we agreed that  Let’s Talk About Kevin was such a brilliant book…  It’s nice when sales assistants actually engage with you on books that they have sold you a couple of weeks  before. 

Back to  ‘So Much For That’: once you get the picture, Shepardo Knacker wanting to disappear to live ‘The Afterlife’, with or without wife Glynis, and is then told by Glynis, on the evening he was to disappear to fly off into the sunset to escape his very annoying and excruciatingly boring life, that she has a very rare form of cancer and will need all the health insurance she can get, and Shep realises that the only way to do this is to continue work and his health insurance (this is America), once you’re through all this as a reader, the book picks up.  Shep is such an ordinary ‘do good’ kind of bloke, his family so thoroughly awful and demanding, his friends in their own doldrums, you cannot but help expect that this is the end of his dreams of ever getting away and living a life that does not end up being a drawn out and simply awful.  No, Sriver comes up with a brilliant story that defeats all and gives us a bit of hope about being in charge and defining your own destiny. 

So yes, the story has grown on me and given me lots to think about.  Also, the writing becomes less obsessive and so I take away my initial doubt about this book.  The girl at Waterstones was right.

Talking about Waterstones: today’s papers are full of the sales of Waterstones (by HMV) to a Russian with lots of money, and wanting to make it a success, building on   expectations of what a high street bookshop should provide.  Keep fingers crossed!


  1. Glad you ended up enjoying this one. I’ve heard about this one and also Let’s Talk
    about Kevin but still haven’t gotten around to reading either!

  2. Kathleen – yes, it shows that sometimes you just have to persevere!

  3. I thought the book was brilliant until the end!!! I may sound miserable but the fact they all agreed to go to Pemba was unrealistic in the first place as was the way that all the ‘healthy’ ones were left to a glittering future after loosing the ones that ‘dragged them down’ one-by-one, without a backward glance.

    The icing on the cake for me was shep getting tanned and fit then ending up with ‘sexy’ Carol after poor old Glynis and Jackson are dead!!

    Sorry but it hits a raw nerve. Life is rarely like that 😦

  4. You cannot but dream, I agree it is very unlikely that this will happen in real life but I though the sheer brazenness of it made it fun. AND it was well written, so she pulled it off. I think there had to be an end somehow or other and I liked the idea that Shep did what he had always wanted to do… But I totally agree, if only life were like that – we know better 🙂

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