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The Life to Come: A Novel by Michelle De…
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The Life to Come: A Novel (2017)

by Michelle De Kretser

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944193,406 (3.03)15

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Showing 4 of 4
A plot line little confusing, but some great descriptions of Australians and writers, and insightful and thought provoking characterisations. ( )
  SarahStenhouse | Apr 16, 2019 |
The writing draws attention to itself. The narration is sardonic, and permeated with dislike for the characters. ( )
  pamelad | Jan 11, 2018 |
(7.5) Redeemed in the final section. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 9, 2018 |
At different times in our lives, we view the life to come in different ways. Children and adolescents often yearn for a future where they are ‘grown up’ and can act with independence and agency; young adults with a mixture of confidence and trepidation anticipate a future with adventure or a career, hoping to have or do things that they think will bring satisfaction while also expecting eventually to find a loved one with whom to share their lives. As the years go by, the anticipated future usually becomes more peopled and expands to include the futures of partners, children and grandchildren, and then, as old age beckons, the anxieties we might have about the future begin to include worrying about the inevitable decline in health, about an adequate retirement income and about a lonely old age as friends and loved ones pass away. What is certainly true is that life rarely turns out to be the way we expected it to be…
In The Life to Come Michelle de Kretser scrutinises this existential aspect of our lives with wit and aplomb. Set in Sydney, Paris and briefly in Colombo, the novel traces the lives of diverse futures which intersect over the decades, contrasting despair and disillusionment with contentment and smug satisfaction. The author unpacks the eloquent silences that surround us to reveal the issues that we deny, suppress and ignore, exposing our flawed assumptions about other people. And she is wickedly funny about the role of social media in our lives…
Pippa is a middle-class Australian writer who is confident that when she was famous, Sydney would be obliged to place commemorative plaques outside the houses where she had lived. But right now she is anxiously waiting on feedback from her agent Gloria:
Pippa checked her email: an invitation from Matt’s mother to lunch on the weekend, a special offer from FragranceNet, nothing from Gloria. Pippa retweeted @MargaretAtwood urging the donation of books to prisons. She followed every famous writer she could find on Twitter, but so far none of them had followed her back. Someone posted a photo of a dog on a skateboard. @warmstrong linked to a screening of Hotel Monterey. ‘Chantal Akerman: wonderwoman or wanker? You decide.’ Pippa read a Lydia Davis story on the New Yorker website. She googled to see if Lydia Davis was on Twitter. She read a Crikey piece about arts funding, followed a few links and some time later bought a swimsuit. Her email chimed; it was an overdue reminder from the library. Anyway, Gloria would call, not email. Gloria’s voice was always low and exhausted. Of Pippa’s previous novel, she had whispered, ‘Everyone here really, really loves it. The scene with the endives is amazing! I’ve never read anything so raw. It really amazed everyone. But we ran it through SIMS, our amazing new reader-response software, and it says readers are over the whole French thing. I hope you’re not expecting much in the way of an advance.’
Pippa’s phone rang and she snatched it up. But it was only a former neighbour, so she let it ring out. (p.186)
To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/10/02/the-life-to-come-by-michelle-de-kretser/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 13, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
The Life to Come is an excellent demonstration of what Christabel thinks of at one point as ‘the power and strangeness of novels: at once removed from and more vivid than life’. De Kretser is an ironist without peer in contemporary Australian writing.
 
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Book description
Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.

Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

Profoundly moving as well as wickedly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.
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Pippa is an Australian writer who longs for the success of her novelist teacher and eventually comes to fear that she "missed everything important." In Paris, Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka, but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time and can't commit to his trusting girlfriend. Sri Lankan Christabel, who is generously offered a passage to Sydney by Bunty, an old acquaintance, endures her dull job and envisions a brighter future that "rose, glittered, and sank back," while she neglects the love close at hand. Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka the stand-alone, yet connected, worlds of The Life to Come offer meditations on intimacy, loneliness, and our flawed perception of reality.… (more)

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