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The Motion Of The Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

Serenata is a woman in her early 60’s. She has been married to her husband Remington for many years. They have two grown up children, who they admit they don’t really like. Their daughter has become a religious fanatic, prolific at breeding, and their son is apparently a drug dealer.

Serenata has always been fit, perhaps obsessively so. Her daily self- imposed training regime is rather extreme, or it has been in the past. Now her knees are now in need of repair and so she is unable to keep up the demanding schedule. Serenata is trying to put off the knee surgery for as long as she can.

Remington, recently redundant, has decided to take up jogging, much to Serenata’s surprise and dismay.

Her chagrin with her husband taking up running at such a late age is two-fold – part jealousy, and part worry that his body won’t be able to cope.

Remington starts to get very serious about his running, and gets taken on by Bambi, a young, fanatical female trainer. She encourages him to run a half marathon, and then to train for the big Mettle-Man competition – a triathlon with just that bit more added on.

Eventually Serenata cannot avoid her knee surgery, and Remington takes part in his Mettle-Man. The inevitable outcome takes place.

Lionel Shriver has a wonderful way with words. Her characters have the most incredible conversations, which would make for an interesting and colourful relationship. They admit that their witty ‘Fred Astaire’ conversations probably put their children off them years ago. By all accounts their marriage has been good, but the strain is beginning to show.

This novel is an interesting look at how the current fad for super fitness has grown. Is it really so healthy for older bodies to be pushed to the limit? Serenata has to come to terms with her own slowing down and acceptance of a body that is no longer able to keep up with her.

Aside from the theme of aging, there are also some very interesting conversations that address the racial climate in the USA.

It’s all very clever and definitely an enjoyable read – if you are starting to consider your own aging body, you will smile a lot. If you are not there yet it just might give you something to think about.

Reviewer: Rachel White