The Life to Come: Book summary and reviews of The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser

The Life to Come

by Michelle de Kretser

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser X
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2018
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Enormously moving, gorgeously observant of physical detail, and often very funny, this new novel by Michelle de Kretser reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform and distort the present.

Set in Australia, France, and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies, and as nations. Driven by a vivid cast of characters, it explores necessary emigration, the art of fiction, and ethnic and class conflict. As Hilary Mantel has written, "I so admire Michelle de Kretser's formidable technique--her characters feel alive, and she can create a sweeping narrative that encompasses years and yet still retain the sharp, almost hallucinatory detail."

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, Cassie. 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.

The stand-alone yet connected worlds of The Life to Come offer meditations on intimacy, loneliness, and our flawed perception of reality. It is teeming with life and earned wisdom--exhilaratingly contemporary, with the feel of a classic.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. There is also much pleasure to be found in de Kretser's lovely prose, whose every sentence fiercely shines. A thought-provoking novel of both beauty and brains." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. With fascinating characters and beautifully nuanced writing, The Life to Come is a powerful exploration of the human condition and a compelling examination of how we look at each other and ourselves." - Booklist

"While each section can stand alone, together they create a joyful and mournful meditation on the endless small pleasures and complications of life : the difficulties of immigration, the logistics of infidelity, the creativity and insight born of jealousy and spite. In de Kretser's sure-footed and often surprising prose, life is rendered as something that's 'tedious yet require concentration, like a standard-issue dream.'" - Publishers Weekly

"The Life to Come...has five overlapping stories which, while being character-driven, reflect a particular concern with history and place...Michelle de Kretser is a writer of unsentimental humanity." - The Spectator (UK)

"Exhilaratingly good writing. ... Each page yields sparkling sentences and keen observations." - Literary Review (UK)

"The Life to Come is a remarkable achievement . ... It's a book of myriad miniature overlapping stories, shot through with subtle leitmotifs, which brilliantly captures the expectant thrum of a world where the future is always about to happen." - The Saturday Paper (Australia)

"Superb, ambitious and deeply moving." - Weekend Australian (Australia)

"The Life to Come is an intense reading experience. ... Michelle de Kretser has written a comic lament of disarming force." - The Age (Australia)

"De Kretser's great strength as a writer is her capacity to render the sensory and the sensual. ... She is tactile and hyper-observant, as are her characters; the pleasure of this novel is in watching her watch them." - Australian Book Review (Australia)

"Although The Life to Come is not a political novel, it is a book that captures the political, social and economic zeitgeist. The beautifully drawn and complex characters are all creatures of the time." - The Guardian Australia

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Author Information

Michelle de Kretser

Michelle de Kretser was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her family emigrated to Australia when she was a teenager, and she was educated in Melbourne and Paris. She is the author of four previous novels?including the Miles Franklin Award-winning Questions of Travel and the Man Booker Prize-longlisted The Lost Dog?and a novella, Springtime. De Kretser now lives in Sydney with her partner, the poet and translator, Chris Andrews. She is an Honorary Associate of the English Department at the University of Sydney.

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