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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  14,693 ratings  ·  2,293 reviews
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a mes
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Redhook (first published January 1st 2014)
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William I give a book a full 25% usually before giving up. See my review - this book has some wonderful themes, and later on a very important one - all…moreI give a book a full 25% usually before giving up. See my review - this book has some wonderful themes, and later on a very important one - all presented with interesting characters and situations.

Imagine yourself living your whole life, 15 times, different each time based on what you have learned so far. Amazing concept.(less)
Dave Smith
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Very very Clever! The first half was pretty solid but after that halfway point it took a turn to AWESOME.
Dan Schwent
Harry August is a kalachakra, a man who is reborn at the same point in time over and over with his memories intact. When a little girl warns Harry on his eleventh death bed that the end of the world is coming sooner with each cycle, Harry goes on the offensive. Can he stop the end of the world, even with the help of the Cronus Club?

I got this from Netgalley.

I love a bit of timey-wimey and this book has it in spades. Remember the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray experiences the same day over
I'm clearly missing something here (look at all the rave reviews!), but man, it was such a chore to get through this. At one point, the author used the term "glacial sluggishness" to describe something-or-other, and that strikes me as the perfect description for the pace and action in this book. I actually was loving it at the start, but it kept dragging on and on and on and growing more and more tedious as it continued. I felt like I was always a step behind on the science and logic (not sure i ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
Read the blurb and you are going to think like I did. Hasn't 'Groundhog Day' and Ken Grimwood's Replay finished this genre? It's a great premise, but more of a novelty. But then I thought that going into the recent film 'About Time' which charmed my pants off (nothing to do with a goofy red-headed protagonist with the ability to travel through time, no siree).

Surely this novelty situation has been done by now.

Well maybe now it has, because after reading this novel I sure as hell know it certainl
Wow, whatever I was expecting, it definitely wasn't this. It's historical, it's science fictional, it's a spy novel, it's a long episode of DW sans the time & space travel, it's a spiteful letter of twisted friendships and vengeance. WHAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN THIS BOOK?!
Bob Milne
There's at least one book each year that strives to be the next big mainstream/genre crossover . . . one book that tries to achieve a sort of mainstream literary respectability, while still managing to resonate with genre fans. More often than not, those crossovers don't work, and just end up disappointing one group, while alienating the other. As such, I'm always a bit reluctant to give those books a read, but read them I do, hoping that, this time, there really is a crossover success in the ma ...more
Craig Allen
1.5 stars. Never have I ever been so happy to finish a book. Reading this one was an absolute chore, but I just couldn't quit because I hate quitting books. And I wanted to see how it ended, so I guess I did care to an extent. It dragged on and on and on and so much history stuff and rambling. I thought it was this terrible book, a cure for insomnia, until I got on here and saw all the 5 star reviews. Maybe it was just not my cup of tea. I will say it picked up in the last 30% or so and the firs ...more
Lindsey Rey
WOW WOW WOW! Absolutely LOVED this! My mind is spinning right now.
Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
Harry August lives his life, over and over and over. His memory gradually returns to him when he's a toddler in each life. The first time his prior memories reawaken, in his second life, he thinks he's insane and ends up committing suicide when he's only about seven, only to find himself starting all over again in a third life. Since clearly the suicide thing doesn't solve his problem, he gets down to the business of trying to figure out how to best live his life lives.

One of the beauties of Har
Hot damn.

Good God.

This book was fan-tas-tic.

I read it through NetGalley before it was published. I finished it in one and a half days and as I type this, my husband is reading it. What began as me-forcing-him to sit down and read it turned into voluntary enslavement within the first few pages.

The main character of this book is clearly--Harry August. He is one of a few people on our Earth who live their lives over and over again. They call themselves kalachakras or ouraboras. (I can't check my
Great book. Really loved the scope and scale of it. Harry is a great character and protagonist. I like that he is flawed and makes mistakes. Really liked the complexity and dynamic of the relationship he had with the antagonist as well.

Also really loved all the flashbacks of past lives and stories that others like Harry had passed down through the ages.

Can't say too much else without spoiling anything, but I do look forward to others reading it so we can discuss the ending which I have a few qu
Rebecca Foster
The theme of a character reliving the same life over and over will no doubt have you thinking of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life*, but this book is so much better. Perhaps simply because of the first-person narration, I developed much more of a fondness for Harry August and his multiple life stories than I ever did for Ursula Todd.

“I am not one Harry August but many, a mind flicking from parallel life to parallel life...when I die, the world carries on without me, altered by my deeds, marked by
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a novel by British author Clair North (a pseudonym used by Catherine Webb). Harry August is a kalachakra, one of a collection of extraordinary individuals who die, only to be reborn at exactly the same moment in history, to live parallel lives that loop perpetually through the same course of historical events, although experiencing changes within their own lives. Harry is even more unusual in that he has a perfect memory, accurately recalling the detail ...more
ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley as an exchange for honest review.

5 Quantum Stars!

Normally as soon as I see a book with long science theme or a plot that looks confusing and time consuming I don't even give it a chance, but I made an exception for Harry August and am so glad I did

The Plot : Harry August is a special man, he can't die but he's not immortal either. Every time he dies he is born again, at first it is a little confusing to keep track of wha
Vrinda Pendred
Mar 10, 2015 Vrinda Pendred rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy watching paint dry
Possibly the dullest book I've ever read. I suppose that deserves credit of some sort. Like ‘The House of the Seven Gables’, the author excelled at making me feel so claustrophobic and trapped in a realm of endless tedium that I related to the narrator’s disgust with life after suffering through just fifty pages. That’s not the mark of a good story, though.

The 'plot', if you will (and if I sound like I'm speaking in a pretentious poncy way, it's because I've been infected by the style in which t
Apr 13, 2015 Rebecca marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I'm not normally one to DNF (did-not-finish) books. I like to finish them if I can or at least put them aside for another time. Harry August is a tricky one because I was really excited to read it. I assumed that I'd love it because of the amazing reviews and the great concept, but that wasn't the case. It was a struggle for me from the very beginning and I just couldn't get into it. I'm reading it with my best friend and she feels the same way, which helped me come to the decision to DNF it. I ...more
Abdulrahman Alhussain
Whenever Harry August dies, he finds himself born again, on the same year, on the same day, on the same train, to the same mother. Every time. With the memories of his past lives fully intact.

The first time it happened to him, he was so distraught he committed suicide before his 8th birthday. It took him many lives to finally accept his immorality. He tried all kinds of religions, and dabbled in all branches of science, but still he couldn’t figure out the how and why of his condition. Then one
"The world is ending. The message has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back down generations from a thousand years forward in time. The world is ending and we cannot prevent it. So now it's up to you."
Typically this would be the moment when our hero-protagonist would leap into action and save the day. However, in this case, our hero-protagonist, Harry August, is 78 and in the late stages of cancer. Like most people who are 78 and in the late stages of cancer he died and th
Jared Shurin
A disclaimer, I suppose - I went into this novel a bit jaded about "time travel" tales. And I was certainly not in the mood for another book about the apocalypse (or the prevention thereof). So finding that I liked this book - loved it, in fact - came as a bit of a surprise.

Harry August is an unforgettable character (there's a slightly spoiler-related pun in there, but I'll let you read the book and come back to mock me). Harry is born, lives a fairly unimpressive life (sorry Harry, you're a bit
Harry August is a kalachakra, one who must live their life over and over again. After death he is reborn at the same time and place and must go through childhood until he is able to escape and make his own way in the world in whatever way he wishes. Harry is also unusual in having a perfect memory and remembering every detail of his former lives. Kalachakra must be careful not to alter the major events of history to keep the world a stable place so when a message is passed down from kalachakra w ...more
Karl Wiggins
No man ever steps in the same river twice

Move over Plato, Pythagoras and Parmenides. Make way for Claire North.

Plato gave us his theory of forms, Pythagoras brought us transmigration of the soul beginning a new life in a fresh body (although of course he wasn't the first), and Parmenides explained how reality is one, change is impossible and existence timeless and unchanging.

Claire North, in contrast, philosophises about re-birth in the same body at the same time in an ever so slightly shifting
I have a lot to say about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Starting with: I really want to like it. I’ve followed North’s work since she wrote Mirror Dreams as Catherine Webb; if I recall rightly, we’re about the same age and she was just sixteen when it was published. I loved her narrator, the quirky twists in the way things work. I haven’t read all her work as Kate Griffin, but I enjoyed that as well, as far as I’ve got.

But this one… The idea is fascinating. It’s one that I’ve actually
I decided not to hold back. I am going to be honest, wasn't sure if I was really going to enjoy this. I had to read this for a Bossy Book challenge. I am glad I did. About 1/4 of the way in I was gone. Gone into Harry's story. Sucked in. I loved how we jumped around. (It was well done I promise). I really can't say more without spoiling the story. I can't say if this was science fiction, historical fiction, time was all of those at the same time. And yet not. I felt like I was very m ...more
Liz Wilkins
Read this one in a few short sharp bursts - beautifully written, highly compelling and often very strange, Harry August will steal your heart.

He does his best poor chap - but when you live the same life over and over, often falling sooner than you should despite your best efforts to avoid it, it is bound to get wearing. When a young girl tells him that in the future the world is ending and that he needs to sort it out, Harry has even more on his plate.

You are probably thinking Life after Life (a
Damian Dubois
Bloody good book and although it's still quite early in the year this will no doubt be up there with my faves of 2014. Hopefully during the Easter break (actually 10 days off work!) I'll be able to write up something a little more meaningful to try and convince you all to pick it up!
I had a big long list of problems with this book from just a few pages in. A writing style that I didn't warm to, confusing storyline, grammatical choices I didn't like and many typing errors. Things started to change around 75 pages in and I became caught up in the plot. The typing errors continued to bug me (who actually proof read and corrected this copy, anyone?) but I became accustomed to the writing and started to enjoy it. I thought it would be a fast paced action filled book and in some ...more
This review was originally published on

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Claire North
Orbit Books
Publication date: 1st August 2014

How to classify a book like this one? It's something of a quandary. It's not historical fiction, though it takes place at the same time as a number of notable twentieth century events like World War 2, and Vietnam, but it's also not a science fiction novel, despite involving a form of time travel. Part counter-factual history, part
4.5 stars.

This is one of those tales that you should walk into knowing as little about the plot as possible. However, I will give you a small amount of information to see if this book is for you.

Time Travel
You think you've read them all, that there's nothing an author can write that hasn't been done before but Claire North will prove you wrong. Imagine living your life like any other person and eventually you die. But that is not the end. You suddenly find yourself at the start of your life agai

If you had your life to live over again, what would you do with it? The First Thirteen Lives of Harry August explores this idea on an epic scale with the book and Harry’s life spanning a period of time between the early 1900s and the 1990s, reaching its tentacles both into the far past and future.

The theme of reincarnation as time travel was popularized in 2013 with Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. Unfortunately, I became bored with that book quickly because the protagonist keeps living the sam
Another time travel story, I know, "It's all been done before!" Well this is something different.

This concept of repeating time is not totally new to science fiction, others have used a similar concept of repeating lives and reliving the same history. This book does a great job of building a unique world based on this concept. This building takes a little time and as it builds so does the suspense. The plot develops slowly but not boringly. The pieces fit together as time repeats.

There is the se
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Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.
More about Claire North...
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“The most it ever seems we know how to do with time, is to waste it.” 40 likes
“There is no loss, if you cannot remember what you have lost.” 35 likes
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