Jane's Reviews > The Net Present Value of Life

The Net Present Value of Life by Michael Di Lauro
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Jul 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in February, 2010 , read count: 1

The interesting thing about The Net Present Value of Life is that it is driven not by a story, but by an idea--or rather, a set of ideas. That’s nothing new, of course, but I don't come across such novels often, and it's quite a daring move (I thought) for a first novel. The plot is quickly summarized: a jaded 40-something financial analyst, Charles, meets an elderly British lady, Fay, and is challenged by her to rethink all of his values. Consumed by his career and his supposed need for financial security, he has suppressed the creativity and joy of his younger days and is miserable and hostile. His meetings with Fay open up a new life based on meaning rather than money.

As I read this novel I was often struck by how it captured the Zeitgeist of my own generation (I’m 50) and how it echoed many themes that I’ve come across in my own reading. Many of us are now questioning the American Dream model that has dominated the Western economies for the last 70 years or so: work hard at school, get a good job, buy a nice house and retire near a golf course. Writers like Daniel Pink and Barbara Sher are making a living by urging us towards creativity and passion, Christians are signing up in droves for Crown Financial courses based on swapping debt-fuelled “prosperity” for fewer possessions, financial freedom and a meaningful life, and our children… well, who knows what they’ll do, but I don’t think the nine-to-five job will feature prominently. So if all of this interests you, you’ll find The Net Present Value of Life a thought-provoking read. If these ideas are new to you, you’ll find a few avenues for further exploration in the dialogues, and a few more listed in the afterword.
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03/03 marked as: read

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