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So Much for That

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,617 ratings  ·  1,283 reviews
From the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World comes a searing, ruthlessly honest new novel about a marriage both stressed and strengthened by the demands of serious illness.

Shep Knacker has long saved for "The Afterlife": an idyllic retreat to the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Traffic jams on the Brooklyn-Queens
...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2010)
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Patti Absolutely-- although it's also challenging/difficult to see the characters go through all that they deal with.
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  7,617 ratings  ·  1,283 reviews


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Will Byrnes
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-health
Lionel Shriver has written a very grown-up story that deals with serious subjects in a serious way. Shepherd Knacker has been saving all his life for what he calls the “Afterlife,” retirement to some sort of desert isle, away from the world in which he must work in order to finance his dream. But his plans hit a snag when his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a particularly virulent strain of cancer. His best friend, Jackson, has a teenage child with a rare genetic disease and the clear prospect ...more
B the BookAddict
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: highly recommended
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads
Shelves: literary-fiction


A powerful novel with some pretty tough issues; cancer, FD (familial dysautonomia), suicide and the health care system in America. Although that all sounds pretty bleak, remember Lionel Shriver usually does offer a mostly sober read. That is not to say the novel is all bleak; it is not. While the book is mostly dialogue, it is really strong dialogue from all characters, a couple of the characters do possess a very satiric attitude and that makes for some humorous reading. A long novel with some
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Left it at p. 46 and turned my attention to something else, thinking it was maybe my mood influencing the strong negative reaction I was having. Alas, no. Abandoned at p. 66. Those last twenty pages contained more hyperbole, overblown language, pontificating and exposition than I could stomach.

This is the speech Glynis makes to her husband, Shep, after a medical appointment during which she's learned that asbestos is likely the cause of her cancer -- asbestos her husband most likely brought
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Beverly
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kinga
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how I wanted to like this book. How I wanted to like Lionel Shriver! Alas, Lionel Shriver is not a very likeable writer.

"So Much For That" is about Shep who has been saving all his life so he can retire early to run away to a place where people bask in the sun and live on a dollar per day and he is now ready to go. And then his wife goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like 'I have cancer'. So rather than living on a dollar a day, they live on a few thousand a day covering all
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Alecia
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are parts of this book that I would actually rate no more than 2 stars. Sometimes the writing gets overwrought, awkward, and has the characters thinking or talking about the healthcare system or other issues in a preachy, pedantic way. But, in the end, the powerful writing and subject matter of the book impelled me to give it 4 stars (which, as one can see by my list, I do not give easily).

If you want to read a gifted writer describe how it is to be a terminally ill patient, a
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Elyse (semi hiatus) Walters
This is a book everyone could be talking about ---
The story is fiction, with compelling characters, yet the parts about the health care system is a decent representation of what is going on in this country today.
Parts of this book was difficult to read--yet impossible to put down--
with many tender at moments at times, too---mixed with dry humor.
It deals with marriage, illness, intimacy, shocking loss, friendships, family dynamics, disillusionment, betrayal, a range of emotions, love, death,
...more
Leo Robertson
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
POW POWPOW Holy shit, this book!!

I guess I’m not all that surprised at my reversal of star rating from 2* to 5*. Last I attempted this I was having existential crises twice a week, in the air space between Stavanger and London, while drinking too much, in the winter, alone. (On a plane I should point out. I have never personally achieved flight.) So when it came to a book about death and taxes, I had NIL emotional capacity. This left me in the most dangerous state of all when trying to read a
...more
Katie Long
May 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
If a series of Facebook rants somehow became a novel, it would be this one. At first, all of characters ranting was funny, and even a bit cathartic, but once I realized that that’s pretty much all there is here, it grew extremely tiresome and repetitive. It finally reached a point at the end where I was emotionally involved, but it’s too little too late. If this book had been 250 pages long I might have liked it. 450 pages of it though, no thank you.
Wanda
Shriver has produced a disquieting book, but for me ultimately satisfying. There are so many inter-related issues swirling around in it that it’s hard to get a grip on any one thing. But I’ll try to share some of my thoughts.

Number one, I’m so grateful to live in a country where a life-threatening illness won’t bankrupt me. Not to say that there are no expenses involved, but certainly not the bloodletting that happens in the United States. Yes, I’m Canadian and I will be staying here,
...more
Vonia
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Dearest Lionel Shriver:

I shall never doubt you again! I took my sweet time getting around to reading this because The Synopsis had me seeing this as some science fiction novel, with catchphrases like "The Afterlife"... & I do not typically like science fiction... But, get around to reading it I did... and i couldn't be more glad. I will admit that the story was a little slow in parts... some chapters seeming to elaborate more than necessary, but I find that most of her books are like this.
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Judith
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a compelling story this is! I picked it up late last night and couldn't put it down till I fell asleep at 3 a.m. Then got up and couldn't do anything till I finished the book. The hero of this book is a hardworking long-suffering everyman whose lifelong dream to get away from it all is about to be realized. After scrimping and saving his whole life he finally has the funds and the guts to leave New York with his wife and son and move to a tropical island where he hopes to live the simple ...more
Denise
Fictionalized account of lived experience of life threatening and chronic illness within America's health system. At the risk of leaving nothing to inference the author has made some of the dialogues/monologue on health care somewhat overbearing and put-on. At times this can be irritating. But I have to say that the issues are real, the character's situations seem real and the fault in health care are wide. The upbeat ending makes for a fairytale which few are fortunate to experience. Thoroughly ...more
Joe
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2010
I stayed up past midnight to finish the book, which tells you how much I cared about these characters. And I keep dwelling on the messages in the book today, namely:

What would I do if a family member got sick?
What would I want my friends and family to do if I got sick?
What is the proper relationship between healthcare and a functioning, moral society?

The novel appears to start off as a jeremiad, and maybe even just a vehicle for a political opinion, but launches from there to something much
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Karen
Sep 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am shocked by the accolades this book has received. There were parts of the book that were enjoyable and surprising, particularly the ending, but reading this novel was immensely painful, primarily because almost all of the characters were unlikeable, self-pitying, cynical, self-absorbed, and simply unbearable. I realize that to some degree this was the point -- the characters are supposed to be "human" and flawed -- but their extreme lack of empathy for others actually made them seem like ...more
Britta Böhler
Before I read this book I never would have thought that a rare cancer and an even rater genetic disorder plus the ins and outs of the US-American health insurance system would make for a moving, witty and engaging novel. But they do.
Carolw
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had so many words and descriptions that weren’t important to this book’s story. There were many times I skimmed over paragraphs because they were just too tedious. BUT I loved the characters and became very invested in their futures. It is a book about everyday and what people are willing to do to be happy either falsely happy or really happy.
Sheryl Sorrentino
Lionel Shriver is one of a small handful of authors whose work I consistently love—no matter how far one novel might stray from the next. In So Much for That, Shriver takes on midlife malaise, mesothelioma and the medical industry (and make no mistake, U.S. “health care” is all about industry). Her prose is scathing, angry, and unfailingly witty. I can see why certain other reviewers hated this book; it is admittedly depressing. Shriver’s characters are all unlikeable in one way or other, and at ...more
Kate.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have truly loved Lionel Shriver's past novels, but now wonder if she isn't a lot like the hand-walking queer (that character in Beaches who does all kinds of freak circus tricks to wow the crowds on the boardwalk) or that friend you make on the first day of school who you have to shrug off in mid-October because they have become so annoying and demanding. So shrill! So showy! So longwinded! I would tell my Mom NOT to invite her for another play date.

So Much For That details two families' slow
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Carol
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shepherd Knacker is a protagonist after my own heart, the kind of guy who works hard, pays his bills, pays a lot of his relatives' bills, takes care of his family and defers his dreams. He wants to escape the rat-race but his wife is diagnosed with cancer and he needs his health insurance. Or does he? The book is unsparing and clear about issues needing discussing, including, just how much health insurance (and Medicare) do NOT pay for, and, just how oncology gives patients awful treatments that ...more
Magdelanye
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction
Let me say up front, I am not recommending this book to anyone. I am not sure I exactly liked it, and I'm not sure who would be up for perhaps the most oxymoronic book I've read in awhile: a truly depressing page-turner. Add in that the ending is perhaps unearned, the author can tend toward polemic, pretty much none of the characters are likeable, and...yeah. It's a flawed book.

But there's a lot it gets right. How alone each person is when someone in a family gets cancer. How all of us dream of
...more
Ian Mapp
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Think this is my book of the year.

I loved it - the characterisation, story, social commentary and wit that can only be described as Acerbic.

Shep is a great character. He has done everything by the book in his life - starting his own business, looking after family - which is extended beyond his kids and parents to even his sister - a rock, who pays for everything.

Through selling his own business (and soul, by working for the man he sold to) he has amassed a tidy sum to pay for his retirement in
...more
Cait Poytress
I don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:

"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to drag? I get restless, and take a leak, or go for popcorn. But sometimes, the last part, it heats up, and then right before the credits one of us starts to cry - well , then you forget about the crummy middle, don't you? YOu don't care about the fact that it started slow, or had some plot twist along the way that didn't scan. Because it moved you,
...more
Kasa Cotugno
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shep Knacker is that rarity -- a true mensch. He earned his living by hard work, taking odd jobs initially to raise his own tuition fees for college, then building that into a successful business which he sells hoping to move his entire family to a third world country to live out their lives in reasonable financial comfort, relatively cheaply. Of course, life is what happens when you're making plans, and his when wife, Glynis, announces she's got a rare terminal cancer, he must continue working ...more
Thomas Edmund
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shriver is the absolute master of cliché.

I say this not because I believe she is some hack, or indeed is a writer of cliché. But, based on her hard-hitting We Need to Talk About Kevin, and her latest So Much for That I see Shriver as able to manipulate cliché, stereotype and formula to make something much much more meaningful.

The story begins with rich in money but not life Sheppard Knack, preparing to up and leave his home for a life less-complicated in a 3rd world country. His plans derail in
...more
Kirsty
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: december-2016
There is much divided opinion about Shriver's So Much for That. As in her most well-known book, We Need To Talk About Kevin, the book's prose is highly stylised, and one can spot her distinctive writing from the outset. Within So Much for That, Shriver demonstrates just how versatile she is as an author; this effort is markedly different to the aforementioned, but it is just as compelling throughout.

Many issues of importance are tackled here, but the one which rises above everything else is the
...more
David Harris
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel highlights the barbaric and unsustainable system of health insurance in the US. It's long and the text is dense, so it takes a bit of discipline to get through it. But it's well worth it.
Pechi
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A furious train journey of a novel fueled deliciously by a misanthropic rage that hurtles along, wrenching your heart and shifting your perceptions.
Federico Sendel
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shriver never dissapoints. Not an easy read, but smart and thought provoking
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This is a stunning book 2 30 Apr 08, 2013 01:35PM  
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 9780007271078 3 31 Feb 09, 2012 10:09PM  

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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 ...more
“What would I like to get away from? Complexity. Anxiety. A feeling I've had my whole life that at any given time there's something I'm forgetting, some detail or chore, something that I'm supposed to be doing or should have already done. That nagging sensation - I get up with it, I go through the day with it, I go to sleep with it. When I was a kid, I had a habit of coming home from school on Friday afternoons and immediately doing my homework. So I'd wake up on Saturday morning with this wonderful sensation, a clean, open feeling of relief and possibility and calm. There'd be nothing I had to do. Those Saturday mornings, they were a taste of real freedom that I've hardly ever experienced as an adult. I never wake up in Elmsford with the feeling that I've done my homework.” 20 likes
“I have never in all my life considered you other people.” 14 likes
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