Review: Double Fault by Lionel Shriver


Double Fault

By Lionel Shriver

A cautionary tale of passion and rivalry, Double Fault is also a love story set in the high-pressure world of professional tennis. With unerring scrutiny that is her trademark, Shriver examines a modern marriage – not a pretty sight. 

The book begins just as successful up and coming tennis star Willy (Wilhemena) and Eric meet at a Tennis Court, where Willy has just beaten a man in casual, fun game. Eric offers to play her as well and she also easily beats him.  They begin to date, despite Willy’s tight tennis schedule. Eric is an extremely kind and giving man who also aspires to be a tennis pro, however he only has a ‘liking’ for tennis and is happy to move onto something else if tennis doesn’t work out. In contrast Willy has been playing tennis competitively since she was 5 (Eric has only been playing from the time he turned 18). Throughout the book this causes a lot of issues with Willy as tennis is, and has been her life for as long as she can remember. 

They quickly get married, and Eric moves into Willy’s apartment, but as they are constantly on tour they rarely spend much time together, so haven’t really got to know each other. Willy had a brief affair with her coach only a short time before she met Eric so throughout the book there is an underlying, and unresolved issue there, for all three of them.  The book moves through the trials and tribulations of having a hectic schedule and seems to focus mainly on how well Eric is moving up through the tennis ranks – which Willy puts down to being a man with more strength and height, while Willy either stays close to where she is ranked or slides down. Again this causes her issues and she cannot cope when he ends up improving his game and beating her in their ‘fun’ practise games. 

The way the book is written, it comes across as though the women are the emotional unstable ones, with the men being the calm laid back ones. The book goes on until Eric succeeds exceptionally at the game while Willy ends up going backwards, due to some unforeseen and sad circumstances that she cannot or will not deal with.  She struggles with this and their marriage ends up in ruins despite Eric’s best efforts to maintain the peace. 

I really struggled with this book from the start, I didn’t like the way it was written, it felt jerky and patched together. But I did find it in me to finish it. Once I put the fact that the tennis – even though it is a huge part of the book – out of my mind, and focused on the relationships I found it easier to read, but not really enjoy.

 My Rating: 2/5 Don’t bother, unless you want to tick it off your list.

Suitable for ages: 18+

Published by Allen and Unwin

Recommended Retail $23.95


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