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The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
In The Post-Birthday World, Irina McGovern is an American children's book illustrator living in London with Lawrence Trainer, her lover of the last ten years. He's an intellectual at a think-tank, steady but dull and an unexciting lover. Each year, they help professional snooker player Ramsey Acton celebrate his birthday, but this time Lawrence is away on business and Irina celebrates alone with Ramsey. Ramsey is the opposite of Lawrence's personality - active, brash, and passionate. Irina is attracted to Ramsey and contemplates kissing him. From that point, The Post-Birthday World is told in alternating chapters of Irina's life with Ramsey if she follows through on the kiss, or her life with Lawrence if she resists the temptation. Both possible paths of her life story come replete with surprises. Lionel Shriver's novel has received mostly positive reviews with the New York Times saying, "That we are able to overlook the flaws of Ramsey and Lawrence is, in the end, a testament to Shriver's ability to make Irina into a thoroughly compelling character, an idiosyncratic yet recognizable heroine about whom it is impossible not to care."