Sunday, 29 September 2013

Book Review: A Possible Life - Sebastian Faulks

Synopsis - Terrified, a young prisoner in the Second World War closes his eyes and pictures himself going out to bat on a sunlit cricket ground in Hampshire.

Across the courtyard in a Victorian workhouse, a father too ashamed to acknowledge his son.

A skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with a guitar, her voice sounds shivers through the skull.

Soldiers, lovers, parents and children, scientists and musicians risk their bodies and hearts in search of a connection - some key to understanding what makes us the people we become.

Review - A Possible Life is a book containing five short stories.  The first part stars Geoffrey, a schoolteacher who is called up to join the army.  He becomes involved with special services taking part in covert affairs in France.  He is caught and taken a prisoner by the Germans.  He returns to England a changed man, leading a solitary life.  In Part two, a boy is taken to a workhouse by his mother.  He makes friends with a girl called Alice whose family is in the workhouse.  Billy was a quick learn and grew up knowing how to make friends and work to his advantage and makes a home for Alice, her mother and sister and his father.  Alice becomes ill after giving Billy two children and is taken into hospital longterm.  During this time Billy has moved on accepting that his Alice won't be coming back.  Part three takes place in Italy where a family adopt an orphaned boy.  The father of the family is keen to adopt against the wishes of his wife.  His daughter makes friends with her adoptive brother and falls in love with him.  Later on she finds out why they can never be a couple.  The fourth part is set in France where a family live with their servant Jeanne, a religious woman. Jeanne's focus is her charge Clemence.  Once Clemence goes away to school she returns a changed girl.  Jeanne has led a simple existence and is affected by the changes within the family which brings forth memories of her previous life.  The final part takes place in America where an English musician whose band has folded discovers a young girl and becomes one half of her management team.  His input into her career forces him to spend most of his time away from his girlfriend.

All these stories have something in common in their narrative - love and death.  Unrequited love, a love that dies and moves on, forbidden love and a love that is all too consuming and becomes stifling.  I enjoyed reading these individual stories which make up the book but for me, it's not the best of Sebastian Faulks works.  3*

ISBN 978-0-09-193680-8

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