He’s got a clear rationale, but understandably Kay says she needs time to think it over. Then, while she’s looking in the fridge for an open jar of mint sauce, she sees a small box at the back of the top shelf.
“She regarded it with a conflicted combination of curiosity and wariness, though the curiosity was not so intense as to move her to lift the top.”
This novel takes the lid off a solid marriage to poke into its murky depths as Cyril and Kay enter their late seventies and approach the ultimate in self-imposed deadlines.
In a series of possible futures, it follows the couple to a range of endings as they each choose whether or not to follow through on Cyril’s morbid plan.
They’re in a pretty good place at the start, but this is a plan that pushes them to the boundary edges of trust and mutual understanding.
Set in London, the story is based firmly within recent memory and reflects on the impact of Brexit and the pandemic.
Reaching into different futures for each of the various stories, produces some grim and gripping possibilities.
And as the possibilities progress, somehow the inevitability of the outcome sharpens the interest of what might happen next.
Lionel Shriver is known for addressing disturbing and difficult issues and this novel dives into some disquieting scenarios.
She reaches wide into social and political spheres through exploring the individual’s experience of intimate relationships, family dynamics and personal fulfillment.
The variety of circumstances that Cyril and Kay face challenges the reader to uncover their own sense of wary curiosity for the future.
Reading this may or may not lead you to start researching assisted living housing schemes, but it will definitely make you think.
Variously touching, frightening and darkly funny, one clear conclusion is that it’s as hard to imagine being eighty when you’re fifty, as it is to imagine being forty when you’re ten.