There is a creeping claustrophobia to this collection. With a few exceptions, events take place in narrow confines: a rented attic flat in Belfast, a doer-upper in Brooklyn, a desert island, neighbouring suburban back gardens. Shriver’s chamber pieces are thrillingly tightly written. Walls press in ... Shriver writes a bimonthly column in The Spectator and there is a topical, satirical sharpness to these modern moral (and immoral) stories ... All Shriver’s stories are satisfying. I exhaled a little triumphant 'Ha!' at the end of each one. She gives you not the ending you wanted or expected, not necessarily a happily-ever-after, but a feeling of rightness, resolution and unjust deserts. Shriver is brilliant at the 'twitch upon the thread' that brings the wandering reader back with a hook through the cheek.
This is a book of stories about stuff. Some are funny, some are silly, some are clever, and all of them have the arch, in-on-it air that Lionel Shriver does so well, although it tips over into snark often enough that the rare note of wistfulness is more than welcome ... in many of these stories there are fine distinctions and indefinable links between what these characters are and what they own.
Ms. Shriver has a history of grappling with big issues but with Property she’s playing for smaller stakes. Most of these stories are amusing comic vignettes with the heft of network sitcoms. The book’s best work, the novella 'The Standing Chandelier,' does more to develop its premise, exploring the painful dissolution of a longtime male-female friendship after one of the pair gets engaged. But even this turns on a quirky conflict: Should a married couple have to return a wedding gift if they stop being friends with the person who gave it? Seinfeld fanatics will remember a similar argument in an episode from season four.