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This is Life

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  949 ratings  ·  152 reviews
* 'This is Life' is a missing baby mystery and an enchanted Parisian adventure. Hand in hand with lovable heroine Aurelie Renard, you will see life as you've never seen it before, discover the key to great art, witness the true cost of love, and learn how all these things may be controlled by the in-breath of a cormorant." ...more
Paperback, 423 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Canongate Books Limited (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  949 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is really a 2.5. I'm giving it a 3 because I just don't like quirky comedy, and therefore I think my failure to connect with This is Life is in some sense just a category error - I probably shouldn't have read this book in the first place. This is one of those books that is is all about madcap gamine characters, all with tragic pasts, but all terribly good looking, with a penchant for getting into wacky amusing scrapes and comically droll misunderstandings on their way to neatly tied up hap ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. A deliciously dark-humoured read with pleasing fairy tale elements. If you love Paris, the movie Amelie, dark humour, art and quirky characters, you'll probably enjoy this book.

Dan Coxon
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should start by saying that I know Dan Rhodes personally. We would sometimes get drunk together when we both lived in Edinburgh in the mid-2000's, and while that isn't always a reason for recommending somebody, in this case it is. Much of the enjoyment behind a book depends on how well you like the author's voice, and in this case I like the author's voice very well indeed. I even got to hear it in person on occasion. Sometimes it was a rather slurred version ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is Life is a missing baby mystery and an enchanted Parisian adventure. Hand in hand with lovable heroine Aurelie Renard, you will see life as you've never seen it before, discover the key to great art, witness the true cost of love, and learn how all these things may be controlled by the in-breath of a cormorant. Chock-full of charming characters and hilarious set-pieces this is a hugely enjoyable novel that will make you see life anew.

I enjoyed this book. It’s not my personal favourite of
Kris McCracken
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A complicated and convoluted novel that interweaves the story of a young art student, a (seemingly) abandoned baby, a women so beautiful that all of her ex-boyfriends (and their mothers) tend to kill themselves or stalk her, the upstanding proprietor of Paris’ last genuine cinéma érotique (who has a particular fondness for sophisticated ‘girl-on-girl’ films and a lesbian daughter), a pair of Japanese tourists and their hapless translator, the world’s most acerbic art critic and perhaps the novel ...more
Jane  Lecter
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's only January but screw it, this is going up there on my "best of 2017" list.

Aside from this book being incredibly well written (it flows so well!), the fact that it weaves so many stories together flawlessly is wonderful.

I found all the characters so different and unique and would have happily read another book continuing the stories.

The best way I can describe my experience of this book is engaging, uplifting, honest and touching. Although I finished wanting to know more about every charac
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
You can also find my review of This is Life on my book blog.

This is Life is a novel set in France. Correction, it is set in Paris. Correction, it is set in the cartoon version of Paris that movies like Hugo, The Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec and Ratatouille are set in. (I know Amelie is missing on this list, but that's because Amelie has genuine magic, whereas the other movies just have the right sort of colours and tone, without the heart)

The book centres around Aurelie and various acquaintance
Nick Davies
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This hovered around a three and a half out of five for me, which was slightly disappointing because I have liked all I have read by Dan Rhodes previously. This full-length novel follows a young French woman over a week, and all the strange events which follow her hitting a baby with a thrown pebble whilst doing an art project. There's a cast of unusual characters, and a lot of sweet and funny stuff - I know Rhodes does this unusual daily life and romance type stuff really well from his short sto ...more
Andrew Mcq
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to this book, having enjoyed several other books by Rhodes, but I came away slightly disappointed. This is by no means a poor book, but I think my expectation levels weren't met.

My main thoughts are centred on things that this book isn't:

It is not Rhodes' move into chick-lit, despite the cynical/lazy efforts of the publishers to dress it as such. He still retains his uniquely off-kilter quirks for plot and characterisation. For this cheap move, I hope they are inundated wi
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really disliked this book. I actually couldn't finish it, I'm glad I only bought it for $1. ...more
Shayla Perreault
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
If Wodehouse were to write a book on the modern art world, the tone and plot would go much like this. Perceptive about the creative process, how artistic ideas are born and a fun read.
Fab Librarian
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book and devoured it as quickly as possible. Yes, it was quirky and some of the story lines a bit far-fetched to say the least (would a Mum really forgive someone who shoot her baby because she too had done some stupid things when under the influence of drink?). But it was also very funny and the characters really captured my imagination.
The fantastic chain of events begins with Aurélie Renard, a young art student in Paris, throwing a stone high into the air as part of a
Maya Panika
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Life – from start to finish, in all its flavours - is explored and dissected and detailed through the day to day experiences of a group of lightly connected characters. Art student Aurelie, who finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly in charge of a stranger’s baby. Her friend Sylvie, who wants only to be married with babies, but cannot find the right man – until she falls in love with the least likely candidate in the strangest way. Most dramatically of all, through the eyes of Le Machine, who p ...more
Craig Terlson
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A co-worker friend recommended this odd little book to me before I went on vacation. I liked the description, and it had someone going to art school (where I also went) so I thought I'd give it a shot - put it on my kindle, and stuffed it next to the other stack of books I took along.

2 chapters in I was HOOKED - in a big way. I loved the loopy-ness of the characters, the author understated riffing on love, and the absurdity (yet at the same time very real) of the story. I caught myself laughing
Lucy Parsons
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not the sort of book I would normally go for; the whimsically sweet dust jacket looked a little too chick lit for me, but I decided to take a risk as the story was based around two of my loves, (France and art). And I am very glad I did.

Yes, it draws on a Paris based in recent cinema, (Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, Paris Je T'aime), all golden hues and beautiful people living amazing lives & living in more amazing apartment on a bar keeps wage, but this book made me smile. The developi
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I have to admit that I only made it about half way through this book. I love books taking place in the art world and this does poke fun a little bit at it's inhabitants but it just became far to odd without any amusement on my part nor character depth.

I really liked Aurelie in the beginning but her actions and naïveté became incredibly irritating later on that I really stopped caring and started to wonder why I was still reading. It didn't help that the love at first sight theme running through
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: love, comedy, drama
This book is wonderful, charmant in fact. Only rarely does it wander into the real world, mostly surviving in a Paris that would work wonderfully as part of a Shrek movie. Every character is made to seem more alive by the outrageous attitudes and actions they display. Short of wearing striped jerseys as they cycle about the place wreathed in garlic, these characters could not get any more ridiculously French, any more ridiculously Parisian. Following Aurélie and her friends through a week's even ...more
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is set in Paris and includes an artist who calls himself Le Machine. He spends 3 months at a time naked, on display, and collects all bodily output in jars on stage. And then there are the pretentious wankers! You must read it, it's great. Some blurb on the back of the book says, "Full of zest and joy and art and Paris. Only to be read if you enjoy happiness". There are many elements to this book: a stone, a baby, a sleazy art professor, peer pressure amongst art students, ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
ALL THE CHARACTERS. That was definitely something different from what I was expecting. Although the book was mainly about Aurélie and Herbert (whose name was just perfect for the book), there were so many characters that I ended up confusing them (which made for an awkward situation in the end). Though eventually, everything pretty much came together. As I've read in reviews before: this is definitely fiction. This story wouldn't exactly work in real life, but of course, that didn't stop me from ...more
Aug 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Got 34 pages in before realizing my eyes had become stuck at the apex of a roll and I could no longer see. Good thing I can touch-type. If you're reading this, send help. ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
A funny and easy going novel about all kinds of everyday magic that may happen in Paris.
Erin Britton
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After a couple of years living in the city, art student Aurélie Renard considers herself to be thoroughly, perhaps even smugly, Parisian and so wants her latest art project to be befitting the grandeur in which she feels herself to be living. She hits [ha!] upon the idea of selecting a random point in the city, standing unobtrusively somewhere in the vicinity, and hurling a stone into the throng of people who are bound to be there. Whosoever the stone hits will become the subject of her art proj ...more
Tanya Farrelly
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is Life is my first encounter with the work of author Dan Rhodes. Set in Paris, the narrative follows a week in the lives of multiple characters, but chiefly the protagonist Aurelie Renard. Aurelie is an art student who simply wants to paint a nice picture, but listening to other students' lofty pseudo-intellectual ambitions, she feels compelled to come up with a more unique idea for her end-of-year project. She will throw a stone into a crowd and whoever it hits will become the subject of ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found it a bit hard to get into in the beginning which I think is because there were so many characters to follow but I ended up getting really into it.

It's hard to explain exactly what it's about or how it's written but basically every chapter is about a different character until you have a couple of main and a couple of side characters. It's written over the period of a week and follows the characters lives during this week.
I like this because all the characters side storylines link somehow
Jane Gabin
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely and improbable book, not published in the US. It takes place in Paris, and there is a beautiful foldover cover, front and back, with scenes from daytime and night. The central plot - for there are many plots - involve two women, Aurélie and Sylvie, and how their lives intersect. Aurélie is a struggling art student, and she creates a project from the simple act of throwing a small stone. But this ripple effect involves a misrepresented baby, an off-putting professor, a variety of ...more
Derek James Baldwin
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
A fun read that keeps you interested and amused even if it never quite achieves much of an emotional response... until, maybe, the very short last chapter. The characters sit pretty clearly in familiar territory, and I doubt our hero's cheerful Parisian je ne sais quoi a la Amelie (she's even named Aurelie) would seem novel to anyone. But she's likeable and the implausibility of her adventures is no barrier.

I especially liked a cameo by the author: his earlier novel about the dog Timoleon Vieta
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor, library
weird dark Humor. I chose it from the library because somebody reviewing British humor said it is among the best. A man in Paris called The Machine is the darling of the art world-his art is appearing naked on stage, peeing and pooping and saving his body effluences in glass vials- is he just attention seeker or is this art? Lots of other strange characters too, and it is all occasionally funny and there are underlying moments of pathos and of reason-so Life on stage is also reality of Life-get ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book. I was almost going to give it 5 stars, but the reason I did not was that the story was almost too ridiculous at parts. I loved its quirky, uplifting, yet kind-of-dark story, and it made me smile quite a lot. Though I loved the "oddness" of it, some parts of it were a bit over the top, like with Lucien, but the more I think about it maybe it was just the right amount of weird. A definite 4.5 stars, maybe even more. ...more
Carril Karr
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I read the book because it had an authentic art background. It gave me a far better introduction to what installation art is about than I have gotten from non-fiction reading and from viewing lots of installations.
The romances were interesting. The baby story was totally improbable, but despite the injuries quite funny.
And I loved the scathing remarks about ‘conceptual’ art.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I like how the novel does not disappoint insofar as its title is concerned. This is really about life and Life , in which surprising things happen in the most ordinary things. A must-read YA / Rom-Com piece for those who want to see how accidents, tragedies, and misfortunes turn into gracious moments and opportunities to love and live.
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It should be noted that a recent Gallup poll revealed that there are an estimated 14,000 writers worldwide who share Rhodes’ name. He is not to be confused with the Daniel Rhodes who writes books about vampires, or the Daniel Rhodes who writes books about ceramics, or the Dan Rhodes who writes books about theology, or the Danny Rhodes who writes teenage fiction, or the character Sheriff Dan Rhodes ...more

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