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The Last Life Paperback – 18 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (18 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330375644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330375641
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge. She is the author of When The World Was Steady , which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Hunters and The Last Life, which won the Encore Prize.

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I am American now, but this wasn't always so. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was the subject of my local book group - and I am so glad, because the plot synopsis and reviews on the back would never have inspired me to read it. Clare Messud draws you in completely and inescapably to the life of the LaBasse family - and slowly and descriptively tells of the life of a fractured, destructive and disfunctional family unit.
I am sure there are many themes within the book, and everyone looks for their own meaning, but for me the book was all about how we are all trapped into our families - by relationships, circumstances, politics, economics. What really stood out for me though was how I never for one minute forgot who was telling the story, without feeling overwhelmed with pity or sympathy for Sagesse. I felt I ended up judging and viewing her on how she retold the story - not on what she said about herself. Sagesse makes the point herself in the books when she points out that within families when people tell stories very often what is left out is just as important as what is said.
Absolutely beautiful!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Film Buff on 19 Oct. 2003
Format: Hardcover
'The Last Life' is told from the viewpoint of 15-year-old Sagesse, a cynical character whose family struggles to find its place in the world -- they are repatriated French Algerians, who try too hard to given themselves an identity.
Claire Messud writes beautifully about displacement and the need to belong somewhere in society -- she knows what it's like to be someone unwanted, and she succeeds wonderfully at capturing the essence of the rising madness that one can suffer when the demons of the past are constantly knocking on the door. Claire sends us on a fascinating and colorful voyage to war-torn Algeria, the South of France and New England. There are many passages that read like postcards, and others that are movingly disturbing.
If you like beautiful prose with a strong and true protagonist's voice, then 'The Last Life' should be on your must-read list. It is a book that will stir you for a long time after you've finished reading it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
I have no hesitation is saying that this book is among the most impressive I've read in a long time. After a slow beginning, the novel becomes thoroughly engaging, not just in the remenisces of the likeable, intelligent narrator Sagesse, but also in the presentation of some excellent set-pieces, notably that of Sagesses's father trying to flee from Algeria with the coffin of his recently-deceased grandmother. There's a great deal to recommend in this novel. The characterisation is insightful, the writing very well measured, the tone genuinely philosophical. It has a lot to say about France and Algeria, and about America and Europe too - so that one feels that Claire Messud could write interestingly on any person or subject. She seems an excellent writer with an impressively original view of life, and I look forward to future work from her.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sébastien on 13 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
I won't comment on the writer's perfect prose but rather on how she perfectly managed to write about feelings which are so characteristic to French Algerians. Their wistfulness, their exuberant but aloof manners, the sentiment that they have not yet completed their journey from Algeria to France and somehow got lost in between - probably into the depths of their beloved Mediterranean sea. This is a story of a shipwreck and its stranded victims, people who were sent away from Algeria and proved incapable to integrate in the new haven provided by their motherland. In this way, this book is a not only a feat of storytelling but a profound description of a collective malaise. Anyone who - as an individual or a member of a minority - has experienced estrangement could read and learn from the Sagesse's experience.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I was led to read this novel by an extract I read in "Granta" magazine. I am glad to say I was not disappointed in my decision to actually read this novel. Reading this novel is quite a tireless experience really, since this is a book you can stop reading at any point and then return to it without in any way losing the atmosphere you were immersed in during your last reading of it. This is made possible by the quality of the writing as well as the brevity of most chapters. This is not an exciting book in the sense of providing you with an endless series of thrills so as to sustain an illusion of suspense. Instead, you enter the mind and body of an adolescent girl whose life is affected both by the history of her family as well as the developments taking place still within her family. In a sense this is a story of a family related to the reader in an absorbing way by someone who cannot truly be impartial about the story since she too forms a part of the story. Yet somehow she manages to maintain the distance necessary to allow her to tell this story without getting lost within the whirlwind of her own emotions.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 July 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't know for certain but this novel seems like it might be a great one. It has such a large, patient feel to it, it moves slowly at your own pace, and is very very truthful about families and about growing up. I picked it up in a shop -- attracted by the cover, actually -- and fell straight into it. I can't get it out of my mind.
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By A Customer on 29 Sept. 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's difficult to place this novel: is it American, English, or French? It reads like a mixture of all of them. Anyway, whatever it is, I loved it. Sometimes, Messood is too literary for my taste, the sentences meander a bit. But the meat of the book is brilliant. She's one of the few truly ADULT novelists around today, I think.
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