Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £14.49

Buy Now for £14.49

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

A best fiction book of 2021 for The Times

Determined to die with dignity, Kay and her husband, Cyril - both healthy and vital medical professionals in their early 50s - make a pact: to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned 80.

A lot can change in 30 years, however....

By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Go portrays 12 parallel universes, each exploring a possible future for Kay and Cyril. Do they honour their agreement? And if not, will they live to regret it?

©2021 Lionel Shriver (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver. A married couple decide on a suicide pact to avoid the indignities of old age, in a satire on society’s attitudes to ageing that plays with multiple endings." (Guardian, 2021 in Books: What to Look Forward to this Year)

"The Cassandra of American letters." (New York Times)

"Readers will be entranced by Shriver’s freewheeling meditation on mortality and human agency." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Should We Stay or Should We Go

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    69
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    72
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Odd narration, tedious story

I’ve loved every other Lionel Shriver I’ve read or listened to, but this wasn’t good.
Narrator had some odd pronunciations and stressed the wrong words (in my opinion) enough times for it to become quite jarring. It was as though there hadn’t been an editor.
I don’t typically revirw audiobooks but wish I’d known before I continued with this: if you don’t initially like it but hope it will improve, you may be disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

pronunciation was irritating at times

very thought provoking narrative and really engaged me as a listener but the mispronounciation of many words and names was a distraction and detracted from my enjoyment which otherwise was great.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book but poorly read

Found the narrator a bit irritating. Her pronunciation and emphasis on some words completely wrong. Notably: Aldeburgh, Dignitas, Laos....and a few others

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking

Really interesting with its alternative scenarios. Very poorly read, with mispronunciations, bad phrasing and stresses.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Whimsy with a bite

I really enjoyed this but then I do fit the demographic (being someone 'Death is starting to take an interest in' to steal an image from Amis) Shriver uses a punchy concept - like the Billy Idol song title - to pull together the strands of a number of modern anxieties and preoccupations; Brexit, the pandemic, immigration, to name a few; and then spin them off as a set of whimsical hypotheses. What if they 'cured' old age? What if Britain was swamped in illegals? What if you could be cryogenically frozen - and so on.
Some of it inevitably works better than other bits and the mirroring of images and tropes throughout the different versions sometimes felt contrived. On the whole, though, it kept me entertained to the end. The reader's sing-song intonation, better suited to Austen than the more Muriel Spark-like qualities of Shriver's writing, sometimes jarred; and often gave the impression she didn't really understand the more mordant undertones of what she was saying. But it was at least palatable and that's saying something with audiobooks.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great food for thought as we age!

This is the 3rd Lionel Shriver book I've listened to and is arguably the best. Cleverly written with humour and pathos, it strikes a chord for anyone contemplating what might happen in older age, especially if you have seen the suffering and indignity that goes with dementia and cancer amongst loved ones. Definitely food for thought!!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Reasonable story but too long and poor production

I quite like the structure of this book, the first half is the story and then the second half is a number of alternative endings to the first half. It's quite a good device and makes for an interesting story and interpretation, but for me, at least two of the alternative endings should have been cut altogether and some of the others should have been edited down to be shorter.

The reader has a pleasant enough voice but there are so many mispronunciations that it begins to grate a bit. Ideally the reader should know how to pronounce fairly commonplace words, but if not the production team should pick up the error and get that section re-recorded.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A flawed execution

Initially irritating, then a bit more interesting, then irritating again.
The exploration of end of life concerns is worthy theme, and there are some passages that captivate. A few issues are hard to get over:
The characters speak in op-ed pieces much of the time, not sounding like real people at all. There are some odd word choices too that don’t sound natural.
The authors voice is not subtle. I don’t agree with her on some things, that isn’t the problem.
The narrator, as noted, uses odd emphasis and pronunciation in places.
‘Literary’ authors seem to be applauded for any venture into sci-fi. There are sci-fi authors doing this all the time. Read ‘The Fall, or Dodge in Hell’ by Neal Stephenson for a great treatment of these issues.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Mmmm….

The different scenarios were interestingly thought provoking but for somebody who struggles with ‘suspension of disbelief’ in novels generally I found the regular need to re-interpret characters and events, whilst assuming them to be the ‘same’ people - slightly irritating.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Spoilt by the narrator

A very interesting and thought-provoking novel, but totally let down by the dreadful reader, surely nobody gave it a listen through before publication. Do yourself a favour and buy the book instead.