The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser
PUBLISHED BY ALLEN & UNWIN
REVIEW BY KRISTY KYI
Michelle de Kretser is an Australian author with many awards under her belt, including the prestigious Miles Franklin Award for her novel, Questions of Travel. Born in Colombo and educated in Melbourne and Paris, de Kretser’s experiences travelling have clearly influenced her writing.
The Life to Come is set predominantly in Sydney but also contains scenes based in Paris and Sri Lanka. The protagonist who ties the other characters together is Pippa, a relatively successful author. Throughout the novel we are exposed, bit by bit, to Pippa’s selfishness, although it’s not always clear whether she really is that callous or whether she’s just so consumed by her love of writing and desire to be successful that she doesn’t realise how her actions affect others.
De Kretser is skilled at conveying human experiences and making the reader empathise with each character. Besides Pippa, there are several other characters who we get to know including Celeste, who is having an affair with a married woman; Ash, who uses a childhood spent in Sri Lanka to his benefit whilst trying to forget the more traumatic parts of it; and Christabel, who has just lost her lifelong companion.
This is a book that you will want to read more than once. With such multi-layered characters and complex relationships I feel that there is so much in it that I missed the first time around.
De Kretser’s writing style can sometimes be confusing as she jumps from one topic to the next or from one time and place to another, but it is a style that makes the reader think and analyse. This is the first time I’ve read her, but with her style and insight into human behaviour, it won’t be the last.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.