Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Last night I climbed into bed early, excited to finish The First Fifteen lives of Harry August by Claire North.  It is rare that I can pick a favorite book and it is difficult for me to compare books but I must say that this is the best book I've read this year.  And that is saying something because The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow was truly stellar.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, as you may guess, follows the life of Harry August.  He is born in 1919 in England, he lives an unremarkable life and he dies in his eighties.  The surprise comes when he is reborn in 1919 in the very same situation he experienced previously.  This is, of course, confusing for the young Harry as he remembers everything from his previous life.  Once he has his bearings and begins to understand, Harry spends much of his time exploring what his existence, his life means for him.  The world may continue on its natural course, but Harry, and others like him once he discovers them, may live each life as they choose.

This book is wonderful.  It is flawless.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading Harry's story.  The concept is brilliant and the writing is just excellent.  Each of the characters, even those not central to the main plot, are skillfully constructed.  Who hasn't thought about how they would live their life differently "if they knew then what they know now"?  All the choices we make from day to day, Harry has the opportunity to go back and make different ones.  That marriage didn't work out like you had hoped?  Go back and marry someone else or no one at all.  That career choice left you dissatisfied with your work life?  Go back and do something else.  Imagine being a six-year-old with the wisdom of someone hundreds of years older.  And the memory- life can be very comfortable when you know far in advance the right investments to make, the right wagers to place.  For me, the appeal would be having the opportunity to learn everything there is to learn.  How many languages can one master if one has the chance to live each life in a different part of the world?  Be a doctor in one life, a lawyer in another, a scientist and a humanitarian.  There is no or, there is only and.

My only disappointment came when I got to the end.  The ending was perfect, but I wanted to read so much more.  I really did love this book.  I know it will be on my "to re-read" list because I sped through it so quickly.  I'd like to go back and take my time through it.  I hope you'll read it.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

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