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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five stories or one?
`A Possible Life' is subtitled a `Novel in Five Parts'. These parts are, in fact, five apparently separate short stories about individual characters in different times and locations. They include a mild school teacher who finds himself in a Nazi concentration camp, a pop musician living a hedonistic life in 1970s USA, a scientist in Italy in the near future, a former...
Published 21 months ago by Reddy

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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five lives--some struggling, some striving, all wondering at the end
"A Possible Life" is a collection of five separate novellas with only the occasional small connection between them. They are written in five time periods, although the dates given as chapter/story titles (1938, 1859, 2029, 1822 and 1971) are just place-holders for periods of time. If there is a central theme to the stories it is that life experience is more about the...
Published 22 months ago by Blue in Washington


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Newly published book., 15 April 2013
By 
Mrs. S. A. Clay (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Possible Life (Hardcover)
A very disappointing read !! The five strands (chapters are like short stories). There appears to be no link except for one paragraph that appears in both section 3 and 5. It describes a house in France. There is a 200 hundred year time gap however between the events/storyline.
The last chapter could have been sufficient to read !! Ikept expecting something to happen to link the strands together but nothing did.
Not like all the rest of his books which I have had the pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A possible life, 26 Feb 2013
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This review is from: A Possible Life (Kindle Edition)
Five short stories rather than a conventional novel form. Not quite sure what links them. Some more enjoyable than others but I found the rather detached style left me uninvolved and unmoved.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Possible Life, 9 Feb 2013
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This review is from: A Possible Life (Kindle Edition)
Normally love Sebastian Faulks - he's written some masterpieces, but I found these stories just odd. The escape from the death camp, which I assumed to be Auschwitz - was less than believable. Sorry, but not to his usual standard.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 24 Oct 2012
This review is from: A Possible Life (Hardcover)
I am not sure why there are moans and groans about short stories. These are wonderful novellas, five in all, depicting life and its twists and turns. To my mind, there is a common theme, in that you may expect life to take a certain course; however, the reality is that events happen which can change the outcome. For example, you would have expected Geoffrey, in the first story, who had many advantages growing up, to have ended up with all the trappings of, what might be termed, a happy and successful life, with family and many friends. However, events changed the course of his life but, ultimately, he arrived at a certain contentment. Life is full of highs and lows, opportunities and missed opportunities and these stories portray what life is like for many of us. A wonderful collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 6 Aug 2014
This review is from: A Possible Life (Paperback)
I've enjoyed a lot of Mr Faulks' previous stuff but I have to say I found this rather tedious. Indeed, the further I got into it, the more pretentious it seemed to become. By the time i reached the last of the 5 vignettes, I had almost lost the will to live but, out of respect for the author, I persevered. However, it took a considerable effort of will to complete. I only hope this a temporary departure from form. Mr Faulks is capable of much better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection of short stories, 23 Jun 2014
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A thought provoking read which transports you to various worlds with different characters at different times in history. Fast paced and a surprising page turner.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing Stories, 14 Sep 2012
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Possible Life (Kindle Edition)
This is a change of direction from Sebastion Faulks. The publisher's blurb informs us it is a novel yet the layout is of five excellent stories. Faulks uses time and place shifts to portray each of the tales without any obvious coherence although the author states in his words that there are subtle links within the contents.

It begins in 1938. Geoffrey Talbot is an Oxford graduate with sporting and linguistic abilities (just missed two blues and has a French mother). He is an affable schoolteacher who volunteers for reconnaissance and communication work in German occupied France only to end up in a Nazi concentration camp incinerating corpses, facing horror at every turn, comforting himself with past memories and dreams of escape. The crisp prose is powerful, vivid and quite disturbing.

!n 1859, in South London, due to poverty, 7 year old Billy is sent to the workhouse known as the Bastille or Union. Illiterate but canny, he is forced to labour on painful tasks. As he matures and leaves the union, his mettle and opportunism elevate him to heights undreamt of but they come with family complications. Faulks uses appropriate grammar of the local vernacular in contrast to Talbot's story

2029. Elena an Italian 'wild girl', considered shy and a loner, but actually intolerant of other children, is intelligent and the development of her story is towards important neuroscientific discoveries concerning the control of consciousness. Unexpected information concerning her relatives add to her story.

1822 in Limousin, the orphan Jeanne 'the most ignorant girl in the village', works
uncomplaining for a family with two children (Clemence and Marcel). She is wrapped up in her domestic tasks outwardly and has an inner belief in God. No ambitions and no motivation for change. Somewhat sad.

1971 Jack (Freddy) a UK music man encounters a talented and temperamental singer song-writer, Anya King on the Californian scene. The description of their relationship and musical progression to fame is portrayed with credibility and realism by the author, with the mood of the times and the inevitable consequences convincingly reflected.

Faulks writes with a knack, style and expertise that keeps the reader's involvement and interest moving. His narrative and subject matter in this book are intriguing. What of the 'novel' and connections between the stories? My punt is in some of the words of the protagonists. Talbot, on waking, 'some subtle rearrangement of particles had taken place within him...and he was not the same man'.
Billy, "I don't think you ever understand your life - not till it's finished and probably not then either".
Elena holds her mother's ashes 'atoms that had existed since the start of time and in the great economy of the Universe would be assembled for further use' and 'the individual was composed of recycled matter only'. In 2069,despite her achievements, she admits she knows nothing at all.
Marcel talking to Jeanne "We don't really know why we are alive...One day there may be someone who understands everything, like a scientist".
Jack in part 5. " Occasionally I think that someone has lived it (life) for me", and "I think we're all in this thing, like it or not forever".
This is speculative, but we are all individuals with an identity, yet are part of a continuum based on previous experience and memories, wherever, whenever, whoever. Does matter in another form reappear after 'passing away' as part of the future? Whatever, this uncompromising well-written and enjoyable book leaves plenty to think about. No doubt other readers have their opinions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short stories by the author of 'Birdsong', 1 July 2014
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This review is from: A Possible Life (Kindle Edition)
..It's not clear from the cover that these are a collection of 5 very different short stories. Warning - The first includes a very graphic
account of a Nazi death camp. I wasn't convinced that this medium is best suited to Sebastian Faulks's talents but if you're a fan of his they're certainly worth a read - you will have your own particular favourite.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Do they sit down and read them at all?, 14 Mar 2014
This review is from: A Possible Life (Paperback)
Here again is confirmation that professional reviewers don't read the books they review, or don't read them to the end, or read them too quickly. It's Sebastian Faulks, so it must be good, right? Someone for "The Times ": ... the stories acquire power as resonances between them accrete (sic). Only at the end do you realise you've been won over by their quiet, glinting virtuosity (sic again);" That would be the quiet, glinting virtuosity of "tears erupted from my eyes" - how painful for him - and "he smoked about half a kilo of grass a day", right?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left a bit dissatisfied..., 4 Mar 2014
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I wad left dissatisfied by the short stories. Just as I had got to grips with the characters, settings and eras the story ended. Undoubtedly very clever to write five widely different stories in different eras but I would have preferred a full blown book. Just didn't suit me.
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A Possible Life
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks (Paperback - 12 Sep 2013)
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