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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August [Kindle Edition]

Claire North
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (443 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

*** Featured in the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2014 ***

*** Featured in the Waterstones Book Club in 2014***

*** Featured on BBC Radio 2 Book Club in 2014 ***

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message.'

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Product Description


An astonishing re-invention of the time-travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful (M. R. Carey, author of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS)

Gripping (SUN)

This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it's all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself . . . Beautifully written and structured . . . a remarkable book (BOOKLIST)

A truly extraordinary novel: an impeccable portrait of a friendship tortured by time in which masterful character and fantastic narrative come together to tremendous effect (TOR.COM)

A thoughtful and considered time-travel novel, shocking twists and, most important of all, a beautiful character. Harry August will break your heart fifteen times (Jared Shurin)

A brave, genre-defying novel, which is mind-blowing in its originality and bold concept . . . Stunning! (NOVELICIOUS)

Part unique and intriguing mystery, part philosophical look at life, memory and time travel this story kept me totally gripped from the opening words to the mind-blowing finale (BITE THE BOOK)

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is an extraordinary novel, as the publicity has promised (THE SPECULATIVE SCOTSMAN)

The writing is impeccable . . Plus Harry is a fascinating main character . . . And if his next 15 lives are half as eventful, we look forward to the sequel - (HEAT)

A masterful literary thriller - (io9)

Every bit as good as its title. (And, to avoid ambiguity, I love the title.) - (WEEKEND HERALD)

An extraordinary book . . . an impressive piece of work. - (Upcoming4me)

Book Description

The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character - a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time. *BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick*

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1384 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (8 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (443 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #646 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER
Though somehow, it would have passed me by completely if not for the Richard and Judy autumn list. I don't usually like many of their selections, but the title and idea of this stopped me in my tracks. And I was impressed.

Written under a pseudonym (of a previously sci-fi fantasy writer - one I haven't tried), 'Harry August' is a Groundhog Day without the romance, without the comedy, but sprinkled with a little Edge of Tomorrow and a good helping of Source Code, a little torture, megalomania, some philosophical thought and a great deal of intriguing writing.

Harry lives his life. Born to a raped mother in a 1920s railway station, raised not knowing his father, his life is fairly unremarkable despite enlisting in World War Two, his eventual demise from bone marrow cancer does not end his story. He is born again.... at the railway station in the 1920s... With all the knowledge of his previous life floating back to him as a toddler. And so it continues. While the first couple of pages are confusing, once this pattern and idea is set up within a half dozen pages, you're hooked. It's almost wish fulfilment - what would YOU do, living your life again with the chance to make different choices?

It's not a book about 'whys', how this might happen. It's about what we would do with eternity, what we would see and do, what we would change - and not only about ourselves. The book does veer from one life to another, though roughly in sequential order with segues to add context.

Absolutely fascinating stuff. Simply the regeneration alone would be novel-worthy, but more than one adversary pops up for Harry to deal with.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Compelling and imaginative. 1 Mar. 2015
By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read this one in a few short sharp bursts - beautifully written, highly compelling and often very strange, Harry August will steal your heart.

He does his best poor chap - but when you live the same life over and over, often falling sooner than you should despite your best efforts to avoid it, it is bound to get wearing. When a young girl tells him that in the future the world is ending and that he needs to sort it out, Harry has even more on his plate.

You are probably thinking Life after Life (an also beautifully written tale) right now but this is very different, just as compelling but for entirely different reasons. Across history there are many like Harry, living out their tiny portions of time over and over again - messages are passed generationally and the world building is stunningly imaginative. Harry himself is a marvel, his thought processes and decision making will keep you hooked into this - despite his best efforts the future world keeps looking bleaker. He has a marvellously brilliant nemesis that he comes up against in each separate life and the interaction between these two is one of the huge strengths of the novel. Loved both of them to be honest really was not sure who I wanted to "win".

Overall then a magnificent read. Loved it. Highly Recommended as is Touch, Claire's latest novel. I don't think I'd like to be Harry though. I truly think that once is enough!

Happy Reading Folks!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No man ever steps in the same river twice 28 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Move over Plato, Pythagoras and Parmenides. Make way for Claire North.

Plato gave us his theory of forms, Pythagoras brought us transmigration of the soul beginning a new life in a fresh body (although of course he wasn’t the first), and Parmenides explained how reality is one, change is impossible and existence timeless and unchanging.

Claire North, in contrast, philosophises about re-birth in the same body at the same time in an ever so slightly shifting universe. Slight paradigm shifts that have incredibly profound effects. I think she’s a Time Lord.

Reading ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ is like stepping into a river of gold, but as the philosopher says, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” And this, when all’s said and done simplifies what is a truly magnificent story.

The Cronus Club is a myriad of wandering souls, trickling messages down from the future by means of child to dying adult, child to adult, from a thousand years forward in time, amplifying it down the generations, so that it’s entirely possible for events that took place in 2003 to have implications for those people living in, say, 1919.

Or, taking this to the extremes, events that will happen 4000 years in the future could have great significance for those people who lived during the age of ancient Greek philosophy during the 6th & 5th centuries BC. What a concept!

Those implications, however, can be catastrophic. “You can do whatever you like so long as you don’t bugger it up for the next lot. So no nuking New York, please, or shooting Roosevelt, even for experimental purposes. We just can’t handle the hassle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enjoyable 19 Mar. 2015
By Macey89
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Author Claire North plays with our concept of time. In her vision, time runs over and over on a constant loop. Some people have the ability to retain their consciousness from one life to the next, and are born again and again – always in the same time, in the same place and to the same parents, but with the knowledge of the lives lived before.

Here, being reborn isn’t reincarnation, it’s more like doing endless laps around a track. They cross paths with the same people every time, and develop relationships that span more lifetimes than they can remember. Major events and landmarks pass by again and again, and there’s nothing they can do to stop or change them.

For Harry and those like him, life is both a constant experiment and a bit of a bore. Childhood is a chore to get through. Death isn’t final and is sometimes, in extreme cases, welcomed. But then news of a disaster starts to filter through from the future. The end of the world is coming, and it’s getting closer with every generation. Someone is disrupting the balance, inventing technology far before its time with devastating consequences. When people start disappearing, murdered in the womb before they can be born and breaking the cycle for good, it becomes obvious that this threat is very real.

On a mission to stop the end of the world, Harry soon begins to suspect that the person behind the threat is someone that he has come to know very well. As he sets out on a mission to stop his nemesis that will span several lifetimes, his allies start to fall away until it’s clear that the fate of the world rests almost entirely on his shoulders.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Requires patience
Good book, requires a little persistence at the beginning but worth it in the end.
Published 1 day ago by Minna Moffatt
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good
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5.0 out of 5 stars it's an excellent read. A clever idea and very well written
I recently finished this book, it's an excellent read. A clever idea and very well written.
Published 4 days ago by L. Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
No problem recommending this novel - my favourite of all those I have read in the last 12 months
Published 9 days ago by JohnFromCardiff
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the only books I haven't finished.
Couldn't finish it. Could barely start it. Tedious
Published 9 days ago by Ms. C. R. Hill
2.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Idea But Not Gripping Enough
While I lived the idea of this book, I found it completely possible to put down, frequently; this was probably what made it more of a chore than a good read and I would recommend... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually stimulating read!
The latest fashion in writing seems to be writing books from different people's perspectives which means the reader has to work hard to remember lots of information. Read more
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