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Double Fault

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,383 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Tennis has been Willy Novinsky's one love ever since she first picked up a racquet at the age of four. A middle-ranked pro at twenty-three, she's met her match in Eric Oberdorf, a low-ranked, untested Princeton grad who also intends to make his mark on the international tennis circuit. Eric becomes Willy's first passion off the court, and eventually they marry. But while w ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

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As so many others have said, this book was not of the same caliber of Shriver's WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN or THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD. So, yes, from that standpoint, reading it was a disappointment.

But what if we think about it differently? What if we think about it as Shriver's sixth novel, the one that came before KEVIN and POST-BIRTHDAY? What if we read it and look for those hints -- and they are certainly there, and in force -- of what it is to come from this writer? Read that way, DOUBLE
Spoilers ahead

I found it hard to rate this book - on one hand it did have a compelling 'have-to-finish' quality , if a bit voyeuristic in nature, on the other, it has patches of purple prose, notably the love/sex scenes . Not many of those thank goodness, with their shattering orgasmic noises - though these are his , for a change. And some strange, incomprehensible sentences. These may have been Kindle errors of course .(The sentences that is, not the orgasmic noise) And of course ,as many revi
I really think that Lionel Shriver is somewhat of an underrated writer. I have read several of her books and she has excellent character development and is not afraid to tackle dense and conflictual subject matter. This novel really focuses on the damage we do to each other in a marriage and the impact of two highly competitive people trying to have a relationship. The level of egotistical selfishness in professional athletes in this novel was amazing. Shriver writes beautifully and integrates w ...more
I am rubbish at rigid reading lists. Everything I read influences the next thing, in some way - even if that's often just to act as a contrast. This book had been languishing on the edge of my mighty bookshelf of unread possibilities since the week after I moved into my current flat, so that must have been April last year. But after the philosophy wallowing and unfamiliar narrative voice of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, it got bumped up the list. Lionel Shriver was what I really needed this week ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't just read for 'fun'.
Recommended to Nicole by: NA
Shelves: own
This was a good book, but pretty heavy. I think Willy is one of my least favourite female protagonists EVER! She was so selfish and self-absorbed that I really struggled with her! And I think there were editorial errors in my issue, which is what ultimately made me give it three stars.

But even though Willy annoyed me, this was definitely a book that will stay with me, and one that makes you think, which I always enjoy. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't having such a terrible
I read this book because I immensely enjoyed two of Lionel Shriver's other books -- The Post-Birthday World and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Usually when I find a book that I like, I immediately try to find other books by the author and read them. Although I enjoyed this book, I didn't find it as intriguing or involving as her others. (And, yes, the author is a woman -- I just assumed it was a man when I began The Post-Birthday World and kept thinking "This guy can really write from a woman's po ...more
I read Shriver's previous novel We Need to Talk About Kevin which although a difficult read due to its subject matter, was extrememly well written. I have to say that Double Fault is equally of such a high standard. This is a much more comfortable story although it still challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions and observations. The leads are poles apart in upbringing. Willy comes from a Jewish family, her father an english teacher and failed author. Her mother trained as a dancer but ...more
Willy (female) has dreamed of being a professional tennis player for her entire life and has steadily worked her way up the rankings. She meets and marries Eric, who decided two years ago that he wants to learn tennis and is a scrappy but proficient player. But, after they marry, he enjoys a meteoric rise and, almost at the same time, Willy suffers a career-threatening injury. Willy is plunged into depression and wonders who she is if she does not have tennis. Although I couldn’t relate to the t ...more
This should be a movie; to clarify, this SHOULD NOT be a book. It;s strange that the same woman who produced 'We Need to Talk About kevin' could write this badly. The conflict is intereting, a tennis pro who obsesses over the sport 'meets her match' ha ha when she marries a rising star outranks her eventually. While that can be interesting, the characters are not - they fall as flat as the screen they should be displayed on, where its approprioate to have characters who are really symbols and lo ...more
B the BookAddict
I am a fan of Lionel Shriver but...

When bad editing can ruin a book for you

Sloppy editing can drive me slightly nuts. In this book, but became hut, unsurprising became unsurprinsing: one character Axel became Axe on Pg 423 then reverted to Axel at the end of Pg 425 (and no, it wasn't a nickname), commas appeared randomly. I found simply myself waiting for the next mistake.

The blurb says this novel uses tennis simply as a metaphor; well, it was a pretty big metaphor. I got a bit lost in the tenni
Kathryn  Bullen
Somewhat depressing read dealing with the potential destructive depths of competitiveness in relationships set against the backdrop of tennis. The lead character is convincing but her counterpart is a somewhat unbelievably high achiever in whatever field he chooses to try - no wonder she finds it hard to take when he overtakes her in the points table. Ultimately they both lose - unnecessarily so.
Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Serpent's Tail

Pages - 339

Blurb from Goodreads

Ever since she picked up a racquet at the age of four, tennis has been Willy Novinsky's one love. But when she falls for fellow pro Eric Oberdorf, their relationship is tested to breaking point by their competitive urges.

My Review

Tennis is not something I am interested in at all however when on holiday we do pick up something we normally wouldn't read. Willy Novinsky is on a journey to becoming a professional te
Antoinette Maria
I can't say that I hated this book, but that is only because I was in Peace Corps and read everything from The Warren Commission's Report to books where cats solved mysteries. However, everything that needs to be said about this book can be summed up in a sentence about a couple's first time having sex with each other. It reads something like, But it was too late to worry about what she was getting into because something was getting into her.
John Vincent
Unfortunately the match between Shriver's style of biting, cynical observation and the relationship - however doomed and tragic - at this novel's heart fail to marry. Her characters are somewhat unattainable for all the detail and analysis in their making.

Were it not for my enthusiasm for tennis I might have enjoyed it less, but were the tennis not there Double Fault might be better. As willing as she is to pull observations into the story, we are never allowed a moment's pause from the central
Certainly not Lionel's best work, but still worth reading.

The book is more of an investigation of the characters in the book, much like "A perfectly good family", rather than plot based (like "Post birthday world"). As usual, Lionel makes many insightful comments and observations throughout this piece of writing. Unfortunately the plot is a quite plodding (and a bit depressing), leading to me to give this book only a moderate rating. Still worth the read though if you're a Lionel fan - just don'
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love Lionel Shriver, and if I wasn't grading this book against many others by her that I've read, it would be an easy 4-star rating. I was torn between 3 & 4 stars for this book because as awful as the couple's relationship she's writing about, there was a voyeuristic enjoyment in seeing everything crash and burn. And I'm not giving anything away when I say it crashes and burns because that's evident from the first chapter.

I've always advised young lawyers & law students NOT to marry
Kirsty Darbyshire

I picked this up at the library in preference to the "Kevin" book which falls into the category of books I think I might enjoy but have heard too much about from too many sources to bother with I'm talking slightly tongue in cheek but I've been disappointed by books with clouds of hype emanating from them before and so, well, I don't exactly steer clear of them or refuse to read them, but I tread carefully.

This proved to be an excellent read though. Well written on the whole. The odd sentence st

Amelia Mulder
Double Fault was my first introduction to Lionel Shriver, a book I was very much looking forward to, as it was the first novel I have come across with a tennis theme (I am a big tennis fan). Aptly, it was the tennis that kept me turning the pages, as I have to admit that I became a bit weary of the rivalry between the spouses after a while, especially when I realised it didn't look as if the situation was going to look up! I understand that the author prefers to create characters that are "hard ...more
Kristin Strong
Two stars for a story that kept me reading to the end, if only to see if these two boneheads stayed together. Dialogue as clunky as the starter on a '54 Ford. Unfortunate use of 10-dollar words when a 1-dollar word would do -- "nugatory"? Seriously? This is contemporary fiction, not a college comparative lit textbook. And you do NOT get to introduce gender politics on page 156, when the protagonist suddenly has "chafed at being female" since she was a kid -- we've heard about her childhood befor ...more
I read this because I loved We Need to Talk About Kevin. Loved, loved, loved. This book doesn't even come close. It is also an examination of a romantic relationship and gender differences... but the characters are despicable and it's not nearly as well-written. The plot is also not as compelling as Kevin's. A lot of the conficts that arose were totally contrived and seemed like incidents that would occur in a sitcom- not an authentic description of a relationship. She could have described the s ...more

Although this novel was first published in the USA in 1997, it was only published in the UK in 2006 after the success of ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’. It has similarities in style but I do not think it should be unfavorably compared as it was written much earlier in the authors career before her writing style had fully developed.

Tennis is the dominate theme in this novel based on a relationship between two ambitious tennis players.
The female protagonist is Wilhelmina Novinsky a professional te
Jayne Charles
Lionel Shriver’s books always seem to be about crumbling relationships. She gets into her subject matter in all its details, right under the skin of every character, every action or comment is viewed under the microscope. You have to like them to like this book. Happily I did, though I struggled throughout with the principal female character being called Willy. I can accept Lionel, at a stretch, being a woman’s name, but Willy???

This is a book where you can take sides. Tennis playing girl meets
Derek Baldwin
Not on the face of it the sort of novel I would ordinarily read, but Lionel Shriver's previous novel We Need To Talk About Kevin was so excellent I ignored my reservations and had a go. I'm glad I did but can only offer a lukewarm review I'm afraid. It's perfectly well written but it's the type of "war of the sexes" stuff that's been done so many times.The world of tennis doesn't particularly interest me, and with minor tweaks the novel could have been set in a corporate environment for example, ...more
I picked this book up at the local charity shop and there it returned after finishing it. I read this because I really liked Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. I must admit, I didn't really like the writing style of ...Kevin. It was ...stilted and a bit pretentious, I guess... but the story was so good, it was worth the effort.

Double Fault, on the other hand, is SO badly written...chock full of stomach-churning tennis metaphors...I am amazed I made it to the end. I didn't like the ma
Since Wimbledon had just started when I read this, it seemed perfect timing to read a tennis-related story about relationships and competition on and off the court. I loved it! The book follows a tennis-playing couple from their first meeting into marriage. We see what success and failure does to a relationship; and the damage that competition can do.

I really do like Shriver’s style - well written narrative and great characters that have complexity nd are, frankly, interesting to read about, whi
When Double Fault was first published in 1998, nobody took much notice - and without the success of "We Need To Talk About Kevin", that would probably have remained the case.
It's undeniably a flawed novel.
At times the dialogue doesn't ring true, and it's scarcely credible that Willy (female tennis professional) could beat her lover Eric (also tennis pro) even if he was a higher ranking.
But - as always - this is worth a read because Lionel Shriver makes you *think*. This is more than just a lov
There are but two "strikes" in a tennis "point." A marriage typically has many, but in most there are a finite, if unknown, number of opportunities to win or lose. Double Fault explores a relationship using that sports metaphor. With two highly competitive, driven individuals harnessed as the team, neither love nor marriage seems to have much chance of surviving their separate interests and egos. The novel successfully mimics the sport, a match where unforced errors as often as power serves or c ...more
No one writes unreliable narrators as well as Lionel Shriver!

Willy Novinsky is an up and coming tennis player, although a bit long in the tooth than most. (She's 27!) In comes Eric Oberdorf, who Willy very quickly loves and dislikes in equal measure, mainly because he, too, is a tennis player. They decide to marry and life seems ok, until Willy has a major injury that sidelines not only her tennis, but also her marriage.

Shriver is one of the best writers around today, on par with John Irving i
Tina Siegel
I am, as ever, in awe of Shriver's ability to create quirky, textured, flawed, human characters, and to use metaphors that are ever-so-slightly off-beat but still convey precisely what she wants them to. She is a prodigious talent.

I also admire the extensive research she clearly did to discuss tennis in this much depth.

However, two things: you need to be able to power through the first hundred pages, because that's how long it takes to get invested in this book. And Willy is unrelentingly annoyi
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Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism h ...more
More about Lionel Shriver...
We Need to Talk About Kevin The Post-Birthday World Big Brother So Much for That A Perfectly Good Family

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