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This is Life Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857862456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857862457
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 543,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The funniest, most romantic book Dan Rhodes has ever written. It's full of zest and joy and art and Paris. Only to be read if you enjoy happiness." (Jenny Colgan)

"Rhodes is that real, rare thing - a natural storyteller" (Sunday Times)

"My favourite writer who isn't dead." (Stewart Lee)

"Dan Rhodes is a true original, with a fresh, funny, quirky style that seems to owe nothing to other writers and everything to his own powers of invention" (Hilary Mantel)

"Wonderfully unpredictable. Draws you in from the first page" (Alan Carr)

"A literary treasure" (Louis de Bernieres)

"Bound to be every bit as weird and inexplicitly beautiful as all Rhode's other novels." (Independent on Sunday)

"This is the mad-yet-logical world of Dan Rhodes, possibly Britain's most idiosyncratic writer.. delightfully unique" (Kate Saunders The Times)

"The wit is spot-on, the writing immaculate, the atmosphere so French you can smell the Gauloises....I loved it" (Wendy Holden Daily Mail)

"This is Life is a true melange of talk, action, lust and performance art . . . the novel has many charms" (Daneet Steffens The Independent on Sunday)

"His novel is not a mockery of the chick-lit genre, even if it is aware of the narrative conventions of the genre and takes gentle pot-shots every now and then. It simply takes a popular formula and gives it a very welcome edge. Superb" (Lesley McDowell The Scotsman)

"A reminder of how strange ordinary life is and it challenges us to "adjust to the darkness"" (Michael Holroyd The Guardian)

"Rhodes has enormous fun here, sending up the intellectual onanism of the visual arts world in conspicuously clean, plain prose while also embracing the romantic mythology of his Parisian setting" (Claire Allfree Metro)

"Whether it's a novel about life imitating art or the other way around, Rhodes, like Le Machine, has managed to bottle something of both" (Emma Hagestadt Independent)

"It is irresistible: quality froth infused with restrained comic irony, some very nice touches of dark humour and one or two genuinely arresting moments" (Toby Clements Daily Telegraph)

"Dan Rhodes's heavily quirky, warmly improbable feel-good novel is romantic and satirical by turns, with a serious, sentimental core" (Phil Baker Sunday Times)

"This is Life is a charming and warm-hearted book, full of dark paradoxes and witty ideas and sexual jokes and people you would like to spend time with" (Observer)

"Rhodes is sharp, witty and endlessly clever, and, as the plot deftly side-steps from the ridiculous to the sublime and back, there's little that isn't charming along the way" (Irish Times)

"This is Life is sharp, satirical, heart-warming, a times silly, knowing and hugely enjoyable" (Doug Johnstone Big Issue)

"Rhodes is a masterful storyteller and this brims with the warmth of a writer in love with his characters. His comic timing is impeccable and his ability to create hilariously up-ended set pieces is unsurpassable. Dan Rhodes may just be the funniest author writing today" (Booktrust)

"Rhodes is a masterful storyteller and this brims with the warmth of a writer in love with his characters. His comic timing is impeccable and his ability toi create hilariously up-ended set pieces is unsurpassable. Dan Rhodes may just be the funniest author writing today" (Booktrust)

Book Description

Amélie meets Knocked Up in a comic tour-de-force

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have loved Dan Rhodes' work ever since I read `Timoleon Vieta Come Home'. Whether he writes short stories on the bizarre shenanigans of our hearts, man's relationship with our animal friends or the rare beauties of a human's inherent desire to please through art or suicide museums; I have loved them all. (`Gold' being a particular favourite...)
`This is Life' could be described as the epitome of all that is great about Dan's work. It is hilariously unpredictable, fiendishly clever in its plotting, heartbreakingly sad and also slightly bonkers in places.
A young French art student named Aurélie is so desperate to please her professor and live up to the pretentious minds of her peers, she proceeds with a project beginning with a random act. This small artistic gesture leads her through a tumultuous sequence of events and she endures a week that will change her life forever. All she wanted was to create something beautiful...
This book will force you to question your outlook on art, life and love in a manner must unexpected.
Dan Rhodes should be considered one of the greatest comic writers of our generation. He truly is a genius.
One final thing - if filmed, it should look something like Gilles Mimouni's `L'appartement' or Jean-Pierre Jeunet's `Amélie' and filmed in French (stuff those who can't be bothered reading subtitles!)
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a beautifully crafted, quirky, romantic book which does not take itself too seriously and which has some wonderful, laugh out loud moments. Rhodes writes with a lightness of touch and an occasional poignant twist which makes this a real pleasure to read.

Aurelie is an aspiring artist. Intimidated by her fellow students plans for mixed media projects for their end of year art assignment, she abandons her initial idea, which is to draw something very, very well, in favour of tossing a stone in the air, and taking as her subject, the person it lands nearest to. She intends to track, interview and become involved with the life of her subject, but things go horribly wrong when she ends up throwing her pebble and hitting a baby on the face. Her life suddenly takes a series of unexpected and comical twists and turns.

Not only do we follow Aurelie on her journey of discovery, we take occasional detours into the lives of her family, friends and acquaintances, all of which have equal charm with the main story.
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By Frances Stott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was terribly disappointed in this novel. I adored Gold - my favourite comic novel ever - and loved Litte Hands Clapping. Perhaps I have just read Dan Rodes's books in the wrong order! But this self-consciously "comic" novel just didn't work for me.It felt as though Rhodes, having established himself as a comic novelist, was becoming complacent, safe in the knowledge that his loyal readership woud carry on laughing. But I just didn't find this novel funny.

The novel is set in Paris, and there is a big cast of characters: Aurelie, who is planning her art project by throwing a stone in the air, seeing where it lands (in this instance, on a baby's head) and following up the consequences (which largely consist of being left to look after the baby for a week); Le Machine, an artist whose "work" consists of living naked behind a glass screen in front of an audience and bottling all his body fluids and excreta; Sylvie, Aurelie's friend, who is looking for love; a strange pair of Japanese tourists; Aurelie's professor and his wife...Rather too many to make for easy reading. The basic idea could have been entertaining, but by the end, I was becoming bored. I didn't really mind what happened to any of the characters, and the ending (the neat tying up of loose ends) was too tidy. And all this from a writer who has, in the past, had me helpless with laughter. Perhaps my expectations were too high? I'd be interested to know if there is anyone who feels the same.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rhodes's world works, and always has, by the laws of fairytale rather than those of realism. It's therefore pointless to object that in real life, nobody hands a baby over to a stranger, or admires their girlfriend for being unloving and obnoxious. This sort of thing has happened in every novel Rhodes has written, and mostly so far, it has worked by the standards of its chosen genre. This time, I think there might be an irreconcilable conflict between the requirements of fairytale and those of the novel.

I was a bit put off by the blurb's "only to be read if you enjoy happiness", since I'm not sure I do want unrelieved happiness in a book, it sounds rather shallow. Luckily the words mislead. I suppose many of the main characters do have "happy endings" but it's by no means universal, nor is the book Pollyannaish in the way the blurb suggests. But the problem, for me, does lie with the characters, in that both goodies and baddies are just that; there's an extreme lack of light and shade.

The themes, as I understand them, are quite absorbing, namely the cosmic effect of parenthood on life and the redemptive power of art. On the first, Rhodes is very strong. His descriptions of getting a pushchair through a door, arranging a baby on a bed so it doesn't roll off the minute your back is turned, generally doing three things at once and being desperate for sleep, will ring true to anyone who's been there. The second theme puzzles me, because there seems to be a contradiction at its heart. We are constantly told that the art installation, "Life", has a powerful, life-changing effect on its viewers, who reassess their lives and their impact on the world; they do not go out the same people as they went in.

Yet in that case, what are we to make of the art critic Delacroix?
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