The Female of the Species

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Overview

Still unattached and childless at fifty-nine, world-renowned anthropologist Gray Kaiser is seemingly invincible—and untouchable. Returning to make a documentary at the site of her first great triumph in Kenya, she is accompanied by her faithful middle-aged assistant, Errol McEchern, who has loved her for years in silence. When sexy young graduate assistant Raphael Sarasola arrives on the scene, Gray is captivated and falls hopelessly in love—before an amazed and injured Errol's eyes. As he follows the progress of...

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The Female of the Species

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Overview

Still unattached and childless at fifty-nine, world-renowned anthropologist Gray Kaiser is seemingly invincible—and untouchable. Returning to make a documentary at the site of her first great triumph in Kenya, she is accompanied by her faithful middle-aged assistant, Errol McEchern, who has loved her for years in silence. When sexy young graduate assistant Raphael Sarasola arrives on the scene, Gray is captivated and falls hopelessly in love—before an amazed and injured Errol's eyes. As he follows the progress of their affair with jealous fascination, Errol watches helplessly from the sidelines as a proud and fierce woman is reduced to miserable dependence through subtle, cruel, and calculating manipulation.

An outstanding debut novel about the romantic education of a 59-year-old anthropologist who falls in love with a young student.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Structured in a circular way, beginning and ending on Gray Kaiser's 60th birthday, this novel gathers momentum as it goes. Gray, a preeminent anthropologist living in Boston, famous for her studies of matriarchal societies in Africa, is a majestic, independent woman. In her late middle age, she falls in love for the first time with a cruel, much younger man, Raphael Sarasola, who is obviously using her for her money and connections. Errol McEchern, the long-time associate who has pined for Gray for years, subjugating his own needs to be with her, narrates the drama while, simultaneously, being deeply involved in it. What he does not witness, he invents; he relates Gray's first expedition to Africa, where she met Charles Corgie, Raphael's predecessor, as well as the story of Raphael's adolescence living in an abandoned factory in North Adams. As Gray transforms before Errol's eyes from a vibrant, brilliant scholar to a helpless, lovestruck victim, Errol begins to get glimmers of insight into his own failings and inability to extricate himself from the destructive triangle. The quality and vividness of Errol's imagination is a tribute to Shriver's own; the pieces fall neatly and compellingly into place. This is a confident first novel and a consuming one. (April)
Library Journal
Gray Kaiser is a renowned anthropologist whose career took off when she discovered a remote African village lorded over by white man Corgie, whose plane crash had convinced the locals that he was a god. Now 59, Gray returns to Il-Ororen to make a film of the village as it was, with the help of her 40-ish assistant Errol. Their lives become entangled with Raphael, the 25-year-old grad student whose uncanny resemblance to Corgie makes him the star of the film and eventually Gray's first lover. This is a remarkable book: it is at once full of very predictable plot turns, yet compelling to read; the three main characters are often cliched and transparent, yet they are striking, original, memorable characters. Fascinating and warmly recommended, though perhaps not for those whose taste runs to sophisticated fiction. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Kansas City Star
“Lionel Shriver is a vastly talented writer...This book deserves to be read.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Stunning . . . wide in its horizons, interesting in its insights, and satisfying in its conclusions.”
People
“Terrific—a provocative tale of devotion, suffering, and other familiar accountrements of love.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374154424
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/1/1987
  • Pages: 405
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.41 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Lionel Shriver's previous novels include The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin (winner of the Orange Prize), and The Female of the Species. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2010

    What a book!

    Lionel Shriver is now one of my favorite authors, the ones I check for new books and order practically blindfolded. This book was great! I first read "We Have To Talk About Kevin", then this book, and lastly "The Post Birthday World" What I love, beyond the fantastic plots and awesome writing, is that each book is different. Each book is dynamic, so good I hate to finish but can't put down. I am a picky reader and Lionel Shriver is up so many notches I have no worry about any other of her books. When I saw there had been no review of this book I had to write a review. This book is much too good and deserves attention. Fairly outrageous story here but if you are picky like me, get this book, cancel plans for the next couple of days and read... I'd write more, but I am looking for my next Lionel Shriver book. Bye.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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