Book Review: Property: Stories Between Two Novellas by Lionel Shriver

Property: Stories Between Two Novellas by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Harper

I've had this collection in my TBR pile for a while and am so glad I decided finally to read it. All are stories about the relationships people have with property. The property they own or don't, want or don't, inherit or bequeath, buy or sell, the list goes on. I found myself taking sides and also seeing opposing points of view with plenty of eye-rolling and laughter along the way.

The opening novella, The Standing Chandelier was very engrossing and the perfect lead-in to the collection. While I didn't love every story, my favourites, in no particular order, were the following:

Domestic Terrorism
The Royal Male
Exchange Rates
The Chapstick
Negative Equity

The closing novella wasn't my favourite but overall this was a great collection of short stories and as it elicited quite strong feelings in me about property, ownership and fairness, I have to give this a very strong recommendation.

Summary: A striking new collection of ten short stories and two novellas that explores the idea of property in every meaning of the word, from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for Thatand the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Intermingling settings in America and Britain, Lionel Shriver’s first collection explores property in both senses of the word: real estate and stuff. These pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Lionel Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.
In the stunning novella "The Standing Chandelier," a woman with a history of attracting other women’s antagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his fiancΓ©e—only to discover that the jealous fiancΓ©e wants to cut her out of their lives. In "Domestic Terrorism," a thirty-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a standoff that renders him a millennial cause cΓ©lΓ¨bre. In "The ChapStick," a middle-aged man subjugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. In "Vermin," an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once-passionate relationship. In "The Subletter," two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over a claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either.
Exhibiting a satisfying thematic unity unusual for a collection, this masterful work showcases the biting insight that has made Shriver one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.

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