By Carol Shields
Completed January 10, 2012
Larry’s Party is my first Carol Shields book – but it certainly won’t be my last. Admittedly, I was dreading this story. I envisioned a testosterone fest – thinking the book was about a self-involved male character who was a womanizer, cheater and full of himself. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Larry Weller was likeable, fallible and beautifully rendered in the hands of the talented Carol Shields.
The book chronicles the life of Larry Weller – an ordinary man with an unusual job. Larry creates mazes, and as he gets older, his work becomes highly sought after. Along the way, Larry gets married (twice), divorced (twice), has a son, moves and has a near-fatal health event. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of Larry’s life. Sometimes we learn about his first marriage; other times we learn about the relationship with his son. The final chapter culminates into Larry’s Party – a dinner party where he is circled by loved ones and friends – and gets a chance to see his many blessings.
Overall, I enjoyed Larry’s Party. If I had to make a complaint, it was the constant repeating of information. I wasn’t sure if Shields was trying to make each chapter standalone, but the constant reintroduction of known facts about Larry’s life got on my nerves. It’s a small complaint, really, and certainly wouldn’t prevent me from recommending Larry’s Party to other readers.
I look forward to reading more by Carol Shields and am glad to have read this Orange Prize winner. It’s the type of character-driven fiction I always enjoy. ( )