This is Life Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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"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)
Amélie meets Knocked Up in a comic tour-de-forceSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
`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!)
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.
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.
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a fantastic read! If you want to laugh out loud then this book is definitely for you. Dan Rhodes' imagination and his brilliant sense of humour never fail to impress me. Read morePublished on 25 Aug. 2014 by monika
Aurelie is a student who is looking for something new and original to do for her year two project. She decides, oddly enough, to throw a pebble into the air of a busy city square. Read morePublished on 17 April 2014 by H. Pierce
Dan Rhodes' fifth novel This Is Life is warm and evocative, clever and funny. Some reviewers have said that the depiction of women is somehow flawed, that it doesn't satisfy both... Read morePublished on 10 April 2014 by M. Williams
This was the first book that I had ever read by Dan Rhodes -and what an enjoyable experience it was! Read morePublished on 9 April 2014 by A to Z
This is Life written by Dan Rhodes is a really good read which I have to say I was so shocked I enjoyed it so much as it is so far away from my usual taste in books. Read morePublished on 6 April 2014 by Petra
This is one of those stories that makes you glad to have read it. This is Life is a warm, surreal, imaginative, funny and life -affirming tale from Dan Rhodes. Read morePublished on 6 April 2014 by A. I. McCulloch
A lovely read my first by this author and I really enjoyed it! A stone .... A baby ... An art student.... All set out on an adventure ..... Recommended ....Published on 5 April 2014 by mandynolan
It looks like I'm going to be rather in the minority here, but I really didn't enjoy this book very much. Read morePublished on 3 April 2014 by Socks