A Possible Life

by Sebastian Faulks | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 9780099549222 Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom on 2/21/2024
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Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Registered from my to-be-read bookshelf, from the Faulks back catalogue.

(27/02/24) *Includes spoilers*. I need a minute to process this book, but I also need to capture my thoughts before I forget everything! I’m not sure if Faulks is playing games with the reader; this is either 5 separate short stories with a few Easter eggs connecting them or it is a single rich tapestry of linked themes. It reminds me a little bit of David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ … and similarly covers a variety of apparently unconnected locations, periods in history, including the future. Briefly;

Part 1 is about Geoffrey Talbot’s sad, somewhat constrained life as a failed linguist, unfulfilled cricketer and teacher, which changes course when he joins an undercover group during the war, becomes the victim of a life-changing betrayal and escape from a concentration camp. I think there is a link with story 4 (p198), the same French farmhouse?

Part 2 ‘Billy' Webb has a rocky start to life, put into a workhouse by his parents, late Victorian? (see also story 5, p293). But he survives, climbs up out of the proverbial gutter to be a successful businessman and father of 3. After his wife Alice Smith is hospitalised with an ‘incurable’ nervous condition, he becomes close to her half-sister Nancy (the ‘second sister’ of the title). In a final soliloquy he talks about his life and legacy for his son.

Part 3 near future (2029, book published 2012) is about a young girl in rural Veneto, Italy, during a deep economic crash. Elena Duranti is a genius, possibly neuro-diverse, but she connects with adopted brother Bruno. Later, as a scientist she helps to discover the source of the human ‘consciousness’, self awareness and creativity, linked to a specific neural connection and, relatively, recent genetic mutation. There is a twist which results in her unfulfilled later life. In a final reverie she thinks about, ‘places she has never been’ - England and a cricket match (story 1), a hillside cabin in California (story 5), and a French monastery (story 4?)

Part 4 is about a simple (in both senses) maid Jeanne, also orphaned or possibly abandoned into a nunnery. She becomes close to a bourgeois French family, and particularly the children; the daughter changed by education and the son by a disfiguring war injury (early C19th?) Later in life she reflects on her love for a priest Bernard and epithany, that sets the course of her life.

Part 5 switches the the USA, an English musician Jack Wyatt falls in love with young prodigy Anya, and sacrifices his relationship with Lowri and a big part of himself to produce Anya’s music and manage her career. Eventually she leaves him, part of a breakdown, caused in part - we are led to believe - by her history of abuse and neglect?

All the stories are complete, poignant, and readable. They all end with a rather melancholic reflection on a life lived and relationships with a mixture of acceptance and regret (the title ‘possible lives’?), but any deeper meaning and connection is beyond me!

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan at The Falcon Inn in Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (2/28/2024 UTC) at The Falcon Inn in Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom


Another from the Faulks back-catalogue, quite an intriguing book. I'd like your opinion!

Released 2 wks ago (4/4/2024 UTC) at The World of Glass museum in St Helens, Merseyside United Kingdom


On the take a book/leave a book corner in the"World of Glass" cafe.

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