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Lives not led

Hard-headed and surprisingly right wing, Lionel Shriver does not fit the conventional image of a novelist. Her latest work is a subtle examination of the difficulties of decision-making.

The post-birthday world, by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins, £11.99)

From time to time, all of us experience the sensation of our lives forking. A love affair comes to an end, or doesn’t quite. A life-changing job is accepted, or decided against. For a while afterwards, our days are ghosted by the other life that we might have led. Would it have been better than the one we have? (In our minds, inevitably, the answer is yes.) But the feeling doesn’t last. Our parallel self veers away, and our days resume their old course. Ultimately, this is for the best. If we…

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