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Lionel Shriver's, The New Republic, is an older Shriver, passed on by publishers initially, but accepted after the success of her other books like We Need to Talk about Kevin. The story begins with Edgar Kellogg, a former lawyer, embarking on a new career in journalism. His first assignment for a newspaper, The New Republic, sends him to Barba- a Portuguese city controlled by a terrorist organization known as the SOB. However, Edgar's job there is less about investigating terrorism, and more about investigating the disappearance of his predecessor, the charismatic and widely adored Barrington Saddler.
The first part of the book was slow going for me. There is a lot of setup before Edgar's arrival in Barba, which is where the story picks up. At about 100 pages in, I really started to engage with the plot and the characters. The other roadblock for me was in Shriver's writing itself. Her writing is complex and the language is rich and often fascinating. Sometimes, though, passages can feel overwritten, which is perhaps the result of this being an earlier work. For example:
While the sun set through his own morning, Edgar discovered several bulbs out, maybe from having been left on when Barrington beat a hasty retreat. Vigorously finding spares and replacing the bulbs helped to offset the mesmerizing idleness that exuded from the plague of cushions. Unpacking took if anything too little time, though limping next to Saddler's tick, satinate wardrobe Edgar's wrinkled short-sleeves looked insipid.
Vigorously? Insipid? Plague? However, this passage is on the same page as many wonderful descriptions and comparisons: Edgar's night has the "anarchic atmosphere of a school snow day," and the on the inside of Barrington's refrigerator, "the smoked salmon was swimming, the caviar had hatched."
So, for me, the verdict is out. I still have some pages to go, and my ultimate opinion is undetermined. What I do know now, that I didn't know fifty pages ago, is that I want to continue on the journey.
Title: The New RepublicAuthor: Lionel Shriver
Where I got it: From the publisher and TLC BOOK TOURS