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In Another Life

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Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region's quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life--and about her husband's death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.

Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

356 pages, Paperback

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

Julie Christine Johnson

6 books1,862 followers
I am the author of the historical fantasy In Another Life, which was awarded the Foreword Indies Gold Prize for Book of the Year (Fantasy), and the eco-lit ode to Ireland The Crows of Beara, runner-up for the Siskiyou Prize in Environmental Literature. My short stories and essays have appeared in several journals and anthologies, and I offer writing workshops and developmental editing services to fiction writers and memoirists. I hold undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs. A hiker, yogini, and wine geek, I make my home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 178 reviews
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,862 followers
October 14, 2015
Hey, so, yes. This is my novel. You guys. I wrote a novel. It'll be out next February. What a long, strange trip it's been.

I hope you enjoy!!
Profile Image for Jaidee.
605 reviews1,204 followers
July 8, 2020
5 "soulful, elegaic, miraculous" stars !!!

2016 Bronze Award - Third Favorite Read (Tie)

I do not feel that I will do justice to this book through my review.

However, I do want to impart to the Goodreads community how moving and wonderful I found this debut novel by Ms. Julie Johnson to be.

First a neurotic confession. I was nervous about reading this book as Julie is a GR friend and a reviewer that I admire greatly. I thought, "What if I don't like this book?" or "What if I think it's awful?" I'm not one that can pretend or force myself to be complimentary or give an inflated star rating. I pondered this for a few days. A lightbulb went off. Aha....I will get the BF to read it first. He did not want to read it. "Jaidee this is not my thing. If you don't like it then you just don't review or rate it." "Puhleeze read it" I begged. So he started and read and read and read. I heard him sigh and a few times I even saw him get misty. After three days he was done. "Soooo baby..." I stammer.
He exclaimed, "Jaidee just read it...its like this book was written just for you...I do worry however about tear-stains on all our lovely furniture." So I began to read....

From the get go I was immersed in a world of today and of 13th century Languedoc France in equal measure. I breathed, reflected and emoted for nine whole days and it was on my mind when I was not reading. I spoke to my partner about it and cried with him. He would shake his head and sigh "you are a romantic fool"

Ms. Johnson is an immensely talented writer that not only can weave a story that is exciting, rich and dreamy but can also impart finely nuanced emotions that shimmer in the woven material that she has created. The writing is sensual, beautiful and at times poetic but this never detracts from the narrative that she has full control over and unwraps layer by layer until the full truth is unraveled not only to all the main characters but to the reader.

Ms. Johnson has created her characters and endowed them with such compassion, intellect and loveliness despite the fact that at times they may behave in very unsavory and wicked ways. She is loving and generous to both the male and female characters and understands that the similarities and needs of men and women are much more important than their differences.

What is most remarkable however, are the way she imbues the book with a mystical and magical quality that makes the novel transcendent, powerful and sweetly eerie. The time travel elements were a natural extension of the nature of grief, trauma and everlasting love. Belief in God and phenomena beyond our everyday understanding elevate this novel from an excellent historical romance to an elegy about the nature of both compassionate and romantic love and the deeper soul to soul connections we can experience if we allow and open ourselves to it.

I never once disbelieved what was happening and in fact the world I live in seemed less real than the one the book created. I want to leave you with a quote from the book:

"A trail twists through the stone cliffs toward Arques. At its end lies a broken man, his soul lifting away from his body, fluttering on a butterfly's wing, as fragile as a dream. An eagle, golden and sleek, more rare and precious than a happy ending, swoops down. His massive wings shelter the whispering soul. The eagle and the soul touch, share a breath, part. One into eternity, one reborn into the present."

Sigh Ms. Johnson many many thanks :)
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
January 29, 2016
You don't have to believe in reincarnation or time travel to enjoy the possibilities that this debut novel offers. Just go with it and let the author take you to present day Languedoc, in the south of France , enjoy the wine and the country life and before you realize it , she's taken you back to the Languedoc of 1208. A grieving woman, man's face in a window , an eagle and his hand on the window and voila - I'm sent from present to past , and I was immediately intrigued - wondering how they would connect . Then in subsequent chapters the past and present are seamlessly meshed with the same characters in both time periods. Sound confusing? It's not ! It's pretty gripping actually, as the past sheds light on what is happening in the present time and vice versa.

Lia Carrer , grieving the death of her husband, returns to Languedoc, her mother's birthplace and the place where her husband died , a place she considers home. Trying to pull her life together, and finish her dissertation on "the role of incarnation and the afterlife in Cathar theology" , her life is upended by a past that will affect her in ways she never imagined. The historical focus of the story depicts "the bloody Cathar Crusade" events I knew close to nothing about . (So of course , off I went to find out a little more . This website gives further background information http://www.cathar.info.)

It is through the characters and their stories that this historical event , the time and the place come to life and for me at its core this is a love story . Lia and Gabriel, Raoul and Paloma - I was taken by their stories and I needed to know what was going to happen to them. This is so different than some of the many current novels using the mechanism of a past story connected to a present one . This doesn't feel like different narratives but one story even though about different times . It was overall a story that engaged me with appealing characters, a view of a historical time that I knew nothing about , a debut that will keep me looking to see what's next for Julie Christine Johnson.

Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews608 followers
November 6, 2015
Lia Carrer, went to Languedoc, in Southern France, in search of healing her distant and ancient past.
"My heart is shattered, and my career is in shambles".

Languedoc is where she felt she belonged. It's where her mother grew up and it's
where her husband died in a mountain biking race. Her best friends both live in the area and are thrilled to welcome her back.
Her friends, Rose, Domenec, and their two children are like family to Lia.
Lia's parents died when she was 12. Her parents were both
Physicians for a relief agency in Africa. Lia grew up thinking Somalia was her home.
After her parents death she was shuffled around....living with her father's family in Italy.. Summer's in France with her maternal grandparents - until a scholarship brought her to American University.
Lia was a Historian who had rejected God years ago but made it her life's work to study mystical faith, yet had no belief of her own.

She was trying to finish her doctoral dissertation writing about the nature of Cathar religious beliefs - particularly the afterlife in their belief in reincarnation.
"I've spent years considering how Cathars viewed the afterlife, their belief that souls are reborn to play out there destinies on earth. Yet I've always considered reincarnation as some sort of primitive mysticism."
But, since Gabriel's death, Lia found it hard to focus on her dissertation in the States...
and felt so much of her soul & Gabriel's soul was in Languedoc where Gabriel's biking
accident occurred also.

Lia arrived thin - having lost weight since Gabriel's death due to grief .. But she is ready to begin her life moving forward. The first night she arrived was Winter Solstice ..
and this is where this story begins a page turning adventure. Lia thinks she see's a man's face in her window... but when she stepped out on the terrace she see's a
magnificent Bonelli's eagle. She could almost touch it...
Lia questioned herself about the face in the window -- "optical illusion or crazy vision?"

I can't give the best parts of the story away, but Lia is going to meet Lucas Moisset - ( who at first sight she felt an attraction.. but she will question that 'first impression'). Lucas proposes a business proposition. She accepts.

Lia is also going to meet Raoul Arango, a winemaker, ( a very funny first meeting). Raoul is trying to reconcile his loss after the death of his wife Paloma, and his two children Bertran, and Aicelina. His family is also from Languedoc -- which is where he feels at home too
Lia soon begins to ache for Raoul. He's the man she wants to learn more about his
past and see if she has a future with him. Lia is still fragile - and angry - when it comes to love. Her greatest fear ( her vulnerability ), is the fear of losing someone she loves.

Father Jordi Baltasar B Bonafe ...is the Priest Lia will also have interactions with..as she wants to access the archives at the Institute for Cathar studies. There are documents she needs to see.

The mystery, the suspense, the secrets, the lies, the wonders of who to trust, the ancient murder of 1208, and love, flourishes in this novel with the colorful descriptive visuals that Julie Christine Johnson paints for us...
This is the most colorful ( literally), storytelling I think I've 'ever' read.

Examples of *Color*......
...."His eyes were the same--deep brown and flecked with green and gold--but the skin around them was lined in white, crinkled from squinting into the sun".
"Soft feathers of gray graced his temples---and strands of silver shot through his close cropped brown hair".

...."A chattering of starlings erupted from the far side of the winery, and a four-legged
whirling dervish of terracotta red tore around the corner in gleeful chase".

...."Sheltered from the wind and facing the western sun, pockets of purple dwarf iris
and orange wild orchid could be seen".

...."The mountains wore a cloak of dazzling snow, but a pale- green fuzz of new growth and the white, pink, and orange blossoms of flowering plants covered the Corbieres Valley".

...."MORE ....colors, colors, colors.......
"Lemony light, pastel glow, silvery green eyes, pale lavender dress shirt, strawberry jam sweetness, Tuscan blue, charcoal suede loafers, yellow linen cloth, slim black capris, golden brown hair, a pink apron, turquoise rotary phone, cinnamon brown ringlets, dazzling white teeth, gray chiffon blouse, caramel corduroys, delft-blue platter, bronze BMW, seal black, Greacian blue ceilings, salmon-pink, crimson red, and cream Gerbera daisies, blond Danish goddess, blue coveralls, shell-white walls, black apron, gold flecks in his irises, tuna as pink as rose, red wax seal, a triangle of cream,
spotless white shirt, blue-gray cashmere sweater, teal jersey dress, orange trailing,
a white tattoo"......
"The light caught it's natural shades of brown, amber, and gold".

Aromas... shadows... darkness...ancient scents of vetiver and Sandelwood...lush landscapes delicious foods & wine... adds richness while we look into the deeper questions about present and past lives - choices - loss - love --and reincarnation.

Julie's debut novel is timeless and exquisite. It's a book that will be flourishing and giving pleasure to many readers for years and years!

Thank You Sourcebooks Landmark publishing, Netgalley, and the very talented new author Julie Christine Johnson.

Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,363 followers
February 8, 2016
I am not one to read books that involve time travel. I am a finicky reader of historical fiction, usually shying away from any book that takes place before the 19th century and certainly books set in the Middle Ages. But Julie Johnson has been a Goodreads friend for some time now, and her reviews are always so thoughtful and beautifully written that I had no doubt I wanted to read In Another Life. And I'm glad I did. The writing is reason enough to read this book -- the prose is beautifully descriptive and evocative without being pretentious. And the setting in the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon is again another reason on its own to read In Another Life -- full of history, food, wine and local characters who understand good living. And despite the fact that this isn't my usual kind of fiction, the characters and the story definitely drew me in. Once I securely suspended disbelief, I was pulled into the intrigue of how these characters were connected to each other in contemporary France and again in the 13th century. Kudos to Julie. It's a beautifully crafted book. I look forward to the next one. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read a copy.
Profile Image for Iris P.
171 reviews205 followers
March 1, 2016
In Another Life

 photo Julie20Christine20Johnson_zpskbbeqhke.jpg
Julie Christine Johnson- The Author
“It’s not lost on me that as someone who rejected God long ago, I’ve made it my life’s work to study a mystical faith, and yet I have no beliefs of my own. No way to frame my own grief with rituals of remembrance and letting go. Perhaps that’s why I’ve felt so lost.”
Lia- Main character of In Another Life


I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark & Julie Christine Johnson.

I've never been to France but reading In Another Life certainly triggered fantasies of me hopping on a plane and experiencing by myself the gorgeous, sensual locales where this beautiful story takes place.

Julie Christine Johnson has written an intriguing story that blends an obscure chapter of 13th century medieval history, a classic romance and the journey of a heroine in search of answers that will ultimately prove to be transformative and life-shattering.

Although the novel is based on historical events, Johnson cleverly uses time-traveling as a literary construct in a pretty creative way to connect these characters.

After temporarily living in the United States, Lia Carrer arrives back in Languedoc, France. Vulnerable and weak both in body and spirit, Lia is still reeling from the untimely death of her husband Gabriel, who had died in a biking accident 18 months earlier.

Lia's decision to return to France has not been exactly voluntary; the dean of the history department at Cascade University, the college where she had been serving as a professor of European and medieval history, prompted her to do so after she was informed that her teaching contract would not be renewed.

Languedoc is the one place where Lia feels at home, the place where her mother grew up and where as a child she spent many happy summers.

Lia's loyal friends, Rose and husband Domènec have welcomed and opened their home to her, but rebuilding her life will turn out to be a real challenge, especially because Languedoc is the very place where Gabriel lost his life.

Within a few days after her return, Lia meets Lucas Moisset, a freelance photographer to whom she is immediately attracted. Lucas who is working to publish a book on the history of Cathar sites in the region, wants Lia to contribute her expertise in the subject and coauthor the book with him.

She also gets reacquainted with Father Jordi Bonafé, a Catholic priest and an old friend that is interested in Lia's research and her theories regarding the suspicious demise of Pierre de Castelnau.

Castelnau was an emissary sent to France by Pope III in the year 1208 and whose mysterious assassination prompted the church to launch an at all out religious persecution -later called the "Albigensian or the Cathar Crusade"- against the Cathars.

Later on Lia will meet Raoul D'Aran, a handsome, mysterious widower that will grab her imagination and conquer her heart. But as their relationship develops and Raoul's past is revealed Lia will have to accept transcendent new realities and make difficult decisions.

Old Minerve, Languedoc photo Old-Minerve-ntl_zpsdiul3mfb.jpg
A Cathar Castle in the city of Minerve, Languedoc

For me the quality of Johnson's writing is most noticeable in how deftly and convincingly she uses the historical elements that are the cornerstone of this story.

The historical background of In Another Life is based on the history of Catharism, a Christian movement that thrived in some areas of Europe, particularly in northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries and was rejected by the Roman Catholic Church as a form of heresy to their faith.

Johnson uses the factual, tragic story of the demise of the Cathars at the hands of the church and cleverly weaves a fictional tale in which Lia explores a long held theory: Was Archdeacon Castelnau assassinated as a way to justify a crusade against the Cathars?

Lia's longing to return to a normal life will have to wait for a while as she embarks in a journey to research the mystery behind this ancient murder and while at the same time struggles with her feelings for Raoul. Their relationship will put into question all of her beliefs and everything she thought was true in her life.

 photo 200px-Cathar_cross_svg_zpsdpozolwq.jpg
The Occitan Cross also known as the Cathar cross

The biggest challenge for me was accepting the paranormal ingredients of the story, as someone who doesn't frequently read this kind of narrative, that was a little bit tricky.

Also the story flashes frequently from present day to 13th century Languedoc, but overall I thought the author struck a good balance, so the different time perspectives actually complemented each other nicely without overwhelming me.

In Another Life is a well told historical/romantic novel, but it also begs the reader to ponder perpetual questions about the plausibility of an after-life and reincarnation as well as the connection between our past and present as a continuum in our lives.

I am one of those readers that reads historical fiction mostly to discover periods and places that might be totally unknown to me. That was exactly the case with In Another Life and so after finishing the book I found myself doing some research in order to learn a little more about The Cathars and their fascinating history.

The romance and mystical aspects of this story provided a good dose of delightful escapism. The historical angle fed my intellect. A perfect mix.

With its eloquent prose, atmospheric feel and a historical setting that impressed me for its authenticity, In Another Life falls squarely in that perfect spot that blends history, romance and fantasy. So get comfy, grab a glass of wine and enjoy.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,738 reviews475 followers
August 30, 2016
Julie Christine Johnson's lovely writing transported me to beautiful Languedoc in southwestern France. Lia, a young widow, is finishing her research for her dissertation on the Cathar Crusade, a violent conflict between the Catholic Church and the Cathar religion in the 13th Century. One of the Cathar beliefs is that the soul could be trapped in a cycle of rebirth or reincarnation until it had achieved redemption and peace. The book makes use of this belief in some paranormal incidents when several characters from the 13th Century slip across time into the present. The assassination of archdeacon Pierre de Castelnan in 1208 was the spark that ignited the fighting in Languedoc. As Lia gets close to the truth of what happened 800 years ago, she finds links to her personal life today. This is a story of love, loss, and healing as well as guilt, forgiveness, and redemption.

The book has a marvelous sense of place, set in an area filled with vineyards, farms, old stone churches, and ruins from medieval times. The descriptions of food and wine are intoxicating. The characters from the 13th Century are intriguing--flawed people that also possess an element of goodness. Although everything is not tied up with a big bow at the end, the characters seemed to be on a healing path. I loved the combination of historical fiction, suspense, fantasy, and passion.
Profile Image for Laysee.
519 reviews250 followers
June 8, 2018
I read In Another Life in a space of three days immersed in the sensual lyricism of Johnson’s prose that transported me to another time and another place. This is one of those books where I know from the soothing quietness of the opening pages that I can sit back with a pot of chamomile tea and let time fall away. The delicacy of the prose reflects the fragility of the main character, Lia Carrer, a historian researcher, who is trying to pick up the pieces of her life two years after her husband’s death.

In Another Life is set in Languedoc, southern France, and richly captures a sense of place. The reader is steeped in history amongst the ruined citadels of a medieval city, the stony chill of the Basilique Saint-Nazaire et Saint-Celse, or the flicker of votive candles in hushed cathedrals. To this ancient city that she calls home, Lia returns in quest of "time alone to begin the transition from one life to the next." Her husband, Gabriel, a professional mountain bike racer, had died when he was hit by a Mercedes just as he was close to finish the Tour d'Arques. In Lia’s own words, "My heart is shattered, and my career is in shambles."

Structurally, this novel straddles two time frames that are 800 years apart. The narration toggles between 1208 and the present. Three lost souls from the 13th century enter Lia’s life in the present. They infiltrate her private space of grief and loss as well as her professional work as an expert in the Cathar faith. The latter is a mystical sect that believes in reincarnation and is deemed heretic by the Catholic Church. The three reincarnated souls hold the key to the murder of an archdeacon that changed the face of Europe. Archdeacon Pierre de Castelnau's assassination in 1208 had spurred the Cathar Crusade. Was there a conspiracy by the Vatican to use Castelnau's murder as an excuse to launch a genocide against the Cathars? Of course, Lia’s research puts her in mortal danger.

Well-meaning friends, Rose and Domenec, offer their cottage to Lia as a retreat and introduce her to a wine-growing farmer, Raoul Arango. He reminded Lia of Gabriel and she had a presentiment that she had known him all her life. Similarly, Raoul told Lia, "I have memories of you that seem so very old...like something I knew in another life." Across the yawning chasm of 800 years, how do lost souls find each other? The story offers a glimpse of an everlasting love that transcends space and time. The mystical reunion of people whose lives touched once upon a forgotten time is marvelously constructed with searing tenderness.

For a debut novel, In Another Life is impressive on many levels and comes close to a 5-star read. It weaves together a sophisticated tapestry of history, religion, mysticism, and romance that is deeply moving and achingly beautiful.
Profile Image for Jess.
509 reviews120 followers
August 26, 2016
It was a great story with, in my opinion, a completely unsatisfactory ending. So much buildup to a rushed, incomplete, and lackluster finale. I was left feeling an injustice was done to all the characters. Great writing and storytelling. I think the author has a nice style.
Profile Image for Lenora Dinunzi.
53 reviews
April 2, 2016
I absolutely loved this book. Finished it in two day. will be looking for more books by this author!
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
924 reviews602 followers
February 4, 2016
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Julie Christine Johnson’s In Another Life was a hard book for me. I liked the idea and found the tone reminiscent of M.J. Rose’s novels, but it took ages for me to get into the story and, taken as a whole, I find that fact impossible to ignore.

Johnson’s rich prose is impossible to criticize and I loved how atmospheric the novel felt, but I found the structure of the story incredibly fractured. I hate to be blunt, but I struggled with how Johnson approached the dual timeline and felt the manner in which she moved between past and present made the story difficult to follow and absorb.

The pacing presented another hurdle for as I felt the novel’s momentum was often stalled by historical exposition. The information itself is testament to Johnson’s dedication to research and I adore the author’s enthusiasm, but I felt the sheer volume of fact overwhelmed the fictional elements of the finished narrative.

Looking back, I find that I have a lot of unanswered questions regarding the mechanics of what exactly transpires. It’s all rather mystifying I think the novel might have been stronger if the author had elaborated on the supernatural natural elements of the story in greater detail. I don’t mean to sound overly critical, but the concepts were too vague for my liking and the gaps left me at a bit of a loss.

Did I enjoy the time I spent reading In Another Life? Yes. I struggled with elements of its construction, but I enjoyed the story Johnson told and see myself recommending her work as a light and imaginative romance.
Profile Image for nikkia neil.
1,150 reviews19 followers
November 3, 2015
Thanks SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and netgalley for this arc.

Amazing journey, mystical, and not your ordinary love story! I can't believe this is Julie Christine Johnson's first novel. The descriptions of medieval churches and the Cathar's faith make you wish history could have turned out different. Can't wait to read her next book!
Profile Image for Pamela.
470 reviews77 followers
January 31, 2016
An intriguing tale about love and loss, life and afterlife. The richness of the language and strorytelling draws you into these characters and their lives, both past and present. A terrific debut from Ms. Johnson.

**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
Profile Image for Myrna.
715 reviews
February 6, 2016
Being a lover of historical fiction, an impressive cover, and an intriguing description, this novel piqued my curiosity. Glad I was able to get my hands on an advance copy. Although it is fictional, it is based on a real murder and the Cathartic crusades. Johnson has a nice grasp of the Languedoc region in southern France and blends the past and present nicely. It also includes themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption. All in all, I would only recommend this to fans of incredibly descriptive historical fiction books. For a debut novel, it's good. I would definitely read another book by this author.
Profile Image for Kelly Byrne.
Author 15 books12 followers
September 23, 2015
In Another Life is first and foremost a superbly written debut novel. Johnson’s deftness with language and her vast and intimate knowledge of the Languedoc region of France give the reader such an immediate, and tactile sense of time and place that it feels as if you’ve been transplanted into that mystical land along with her main characters in all of their incarnations.

Exploring themes of love and loss, reincarnation and religious persecution, the story takes the reader on a remarkable journey of the soul, seamlessly interweaving past and present, toward an ultimately redemptive ending.

Johnson is brilliant at unraveling the tapestry of her tale bit by bit keeping the reader living, and breathing in, each moment with her characters.

Gorgeously written and imagined, In Another Life is a spellbinding, haunting story of a woman struggling to move forward from a tragedy in her life, but being pulled back by a past that wasn’t hers to live and pushed forward into a future where she, alone, can bring light to the truth of history.

A story that will keep you up at night to finish, a story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,253 reviews393 followers
February 23, 2016
This story sounded absolutely amazing from the description. A man with a mysterious past, a women grieving, and romance all set in the beautiful south of France……it sounds like a delightful read! And while a lot of it was delightful and delivered, there were parts that were a little rough for me.

Johnson provides the reader with a ton of detail in her writing, and at times it was almost a little too much for my taste. The start of the book was a little slow for me, there was a lot of detail about the character background and set up for the book. At times I felt like I was being told too much in the story rather than discovering it for myself if that makes sense. It just seemed like a lot of the book was slower in parts. Some parts I felt could have been edited way down or cut out to make things go a little quicker.

While this was some what of a dense read for me, I appreciated the amount of research that went in to writing such a complex story. It was evident that Johnson enjoyed the content of her book and put the time into making sure that readers were treated to historical details and accuracy in their reading.

The murder mystery part was really interesting to read about. It’s based on a real murder and the Cathartic crusades and I thought that Johnson had a complete grasp of the Languedoc region of France and the history of this event and was able to convey that to the reader. The descriptions of the cathedrals were beautiful!

As a debut novel, this wasn’t a bad book at all! Johnson has a great way of story telling and creating interesting characters and picking a unique region and historic setting. I would say that cutting out some of the excess will come in time with more writing. I would definitely read more books by her in the future! I enjoyed the characters and story enough to want to see what happened in the end, the thickness of the writing was frustrating because I wanted things to move along more quickly but overall I finished the book feeling good about the writing and the story telling style.

See my full review here
Profile Image for Angie.
1,117 reviews76 followers
January 14, 2016
3.5 stars...

First half of book was mostly a 3 because it was a bit confusing and unclear at times for me. But, I was drawn in by the colorful writing, descriptions and unique characterizations. The more I read, the more I liked, so the last half was 4 stars:)

Our main character - Lia Carrer - was widowed 18 months prior to the beginning and is still mourning the loss of her love, Gabriel. She returns to the area where he died and she has friendly connections, in Languedoc France. Her career is in shambles, and she's trying to rebuild a little by completing her long overdue dissertation. Through this and a potential collaboration on a book detailing the history of Languedoc region, she gets in to all kinds of unique and interesting situations. (Hint hint--time travelers??) Many of these are related to the 13th century Cathar religious persecution in France, both in that time period itself and also what is known to history of its intrigues in our present day. The "real story" may be lost to history--Join Lia and find out! There are attractions, an ancient love triangle of sorts, possible reincarnations, and a murder mystery! You don't even ask yourself if this all could be true--you just willingly go along with it. You want to believe! Wines lovers will rejoice with the exquisite detail she continuously provides on the characters liquid refreshments.

**Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for an advance readers copy**
436 reviews26 followers
December 2, 2019
First of all, this is one of the best books I have read this year, and I am amazed this hasn’t been on the bestseller list. The book starts looking like a simplistic romance novel filled with clichés; however, it is anything but. The story takes place in Languedoc region of France, where Cathars lived in the 12th and the 13th century. As the multilayered plot keeps evolving, one gets to understand the characters, their motivations, why they act the way they do, and why they come back to 2016 from 1208 (to resolved their unfinished businesses and make amends). The book is so suspenseful that it reads like a detective novel, while the inner world and inner pain of the characters are so beautifully described, letting the reader understand what it means to be human, a less than imperfect creation and existence. This is a beautifully written suspenseful historical fiction about Catharism, time travel, and reincarnation. I will add this author on my reading list.
Profile Image for Robert Blumenthal.
840 reviews74 followers
April 20, 2023
Full disclosure. Julie, the author, and I are Goodreads friends. We don't do more than read each other's reviews, but she is still a Goodreads friend. That being said, I always get a little uptight reading books of people with whom I have a connection, and the description of this novel was not my usual cup of tea. But then again, that's what I said about Outlander, which became one of my all time favorite TV series. This novel is like Outlander in that it combines the past with the present, but here it's mostly people from the past (early 1200s) who appear in the present day. It seems like it was a difficult book to write, and I felt that Julie did a superb job of weaving it all together.

Lia has lost her dear husband Gabriel while he was bicycle racing in Southeastern France when he was hit by a car. She is back in that area to complete research for a dissertation she is writing on the Cathar people who lived the 12th and 13th century in France. They were a bit too out there for the Catholic Church, and they were purged in a Crusade in the early 13th century. Apparently the whole thing began with the murder of a Catholic official who was allegedly murdered by the Cathar people. In the process of her research, Lia meets a few men who seem to be from the distant past and seem to have firsthand knowledge of this crusade against the Cathar.

One of the core beliefs of the Cathar regards reincarnation. It is like the Buddhists, where they believe the soul is trapped on Earth, consistently reincarnating into a new body until they reach full enlightenment and can finally leave this world behind. And of course, in the process, Lia falls in love with one of them, Raoul, a winemaker.

The story becomes rather complex as Lia tries to parse out what really happened way back when. I have to admit my elderly brain had some trouble keeping up. But I so loved Julie's writing. I was so swept up in these characters and the setting in Southwestern France. This could have been rather maudlin, as Lia is subsumed with her grief over her husband. I never felt it became so. This is a strongly written novel with great character development and intricate plotting. I look forward to reading her second novel.
Profile Image for Chris.
557 reviews
February 27, 2016
I had a much better review than what you read here. You’d think after writing for 30 years, I would remember to save my work! Lessons learned....

I’m prefacing this review with the fact that the author is a longtime friend and I’ve enjoyed watching this book go from idea to publication. But when I heard this novel took place in present day as well as 1208(!), I went into it dipping my toes. I like cold, hard facts when it comes to my books and as a reader have a hard time using my own imagination to suspend belief. I will no longer be so judgy, because I absolutely LOVED this book. I’m not going to give a lot away; I think everyone should go into this book like I did, not knowing anything and enjoying the story as it unfolds. As a first-time novelist, Johnson’s finely crafted novel and prose are delicate and beautiful. A little bit of romance, a little bit of intrigue, a lot of talk about food, this book tickled a lot of my fancies. Also a poet, Johnson’s lyrical prose enveloped me and took me on a journey. I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the French countryside and believe this book is just the first of many tales this beautiful and creative writer will tell us.

Profile Image for Marissa Hope.
206 reviews2 followers
March 28, 2016
You can check out my entire review HERE along with some extra content like an AUTHOR INTERVIEW!

I love how In Another Life seems like it’s just an ordinary story about a brokenhearted woman, getting a hold on her life again, yet our main lady Lia gets tossed into a crazy blast from the past. My mind was reeling along with hers.

“She'd drifted through a life that had no rails to grasp for balance."

Starting off, I had trouble getting into this book, even though the author wrote beautifully. Truthfully, I blame that on being in a reading slump because once I picked up the book, I didn’t want to put it down. Halfway through, the plot in this novel became explosive, and I read the final third of In Another Life in one day because I could not stop reading!

The scenes from the 1200s were a great example of how an author should show the reader what’s happening, and not just tell them. I was thoroughly intrigued by these men and why they were stuck as reincarnations in current day Languedoc, France. The ending wrapped things up quite well. I was satisfied with my discoveries, and my mind boggled at how the author was able to orchestrate such a twisting plot.

"A roasted goose rested on top of the stove, the gold brown skin of one leg poking from underneath the loose cover of foil."

In Another Life made me want to relax with a warm beverage every time I picked it up, and I escaped to the beautiful, mysterious landscapes of Languedoc. I haven’t been in a historical romance mood lately because I read a couple crappy ones, but In Another Life washed that bitter taste out of my mouth.

I can definitely recommend In Another Life, and say… This is a DARN GOOD debut novel!

DISCLAIMER: I requested a copy of this book, and received one (from the publicist/SourceBooks) for free in exchange for my honest review/promotion.
Profile Image for Leslie Lindsay.
Author 1 book78 followers
January 11, 2016
Gorgeously written with a descriptive hand, this debut is one not to be missed. I was immediately transported to the southwestern portion of France (Languedoc, to be precise), and found the poetic writing had me yearning for the luxuries only found in Europe. It was JCJ's evocative use of words--yes, mere words--that had me bathed in a richness of wonder, scent and visual images.

Lia Carrer, a historian by education finds herself seeking out southern France as a grieving widow, following the freak accident of her cyclist husband. This part of the story strikes similar chords with EAT, PRAY, LOVE and UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. She plans to rebuild her life, but she does not plan to fall in love.

Blending romance, mystery, history, and suspense, IN ANOTHER LIFE is ultimately about love and loss, but it harbors an ancient murder, a fantastical view of reincarnation and time travel, presented through the lens of an alternating time period between present-day and medieval France.

JCJ is an immensely talented author with an amazing talent of rooting the reader right where she wants her/him to be: the ancient hills of southern France.

For all of my reviews, including author interview, please see: www.leslielindsay.com
698 reviews110 followers
June 25, 2018
Totally different to the point of being mesmerizing. I loved the lyrical way the author writes--it was addictive.
Profile Image for Stephanie  G.
1,122 reviews302 followers
February 2, 2016
2.5 Rating

After spending time in the states, trying to come to terms with her husband’s death, Lia returns to the only place she sees as home, southern France. On the first night of her return she sees a man’s face in her window and she soon discovers the same man is the guy her friend, Rose, wants her to meet. Lia, a lapsed historian, wants to finish her research on the Cathars. She keeps coming back to a murder that in 1208 set the Catholic Church against the Cathars. When the past collides with the present the truth is closer than it appears.

In Another Life was not the historical fiction mixed with a little magic I thought it’d be. And it doesn’t have the romantic tilt I was looking for—although it does hint at it, enough that the promise of it became what kept me going. The novel is split between the past and future with the events of 1208 unfolding along with the fantastical elements. As Lia meets Lucas we are given a section set in 1208 with Lucas. That’s when I became confused: was this time travel, reincarnation, or magical teleportation?
Cathars believed in reincarnation, I’m not a historian, that’s just what the book said and it’s a work of fiction despite the historical bent. Reincarnation, as I understand it, is not what’s going on in this novel. This became one of the most glaring issues with the novel for me. Although later in the novel Lia asks about how reincarnation words (my reaction was: HOLY CRAP, ABOUT TIME!) Only it was explained two ways. Raoul, her semi-romantic interest remembers 1208 and what happened to him. Right after that he saw Lia in her window and magically knew how to drive a car, work a modern tractor, use modern wine making tools, and let’s not even mention the language differences. The priest mentions towards the end of the book that he might have hidden an object in a past life, meaning he doesn’t remember his past lives.
In Another Life took a little while to get moving. This is mostly due to the amount of information Lia tosses at readers. We know she’s trying to move on with her life, although the unfolding story doesn’t really seem to help her with that, in fact I think it does the opposite and makes whatever divinity is forcing this on her seem like an asshole. As readers are digesting the names and places in Lia’s life we are thrust into 1208 where people have the same names. In time the story becomes clearer, but it makes for slow reading at first.
There is no other life. As the characters seem magically teleported, and if they’re not teleported what about them before they woke up? Would this divinity just kill off whoever was in their body before? Ah! The questions! I spent the majority of this novel frustrated with unanswered questions to discover no answers and even less pay off for out central character. I usually love historical fiction but In Another Life didn’t deliver on many fronts. What it lacked in explanations was equal to a lack of substance in a disappointing plot line.
- Elizabeth
Profile Image for Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}.
475 reviews170 followers
January 22, 2016
I usually do a little recap paragraph in my own words. This one is hard because at times I am not sure what was going on. I will some it up like this - widow finds love again while in Southern France researching and ancient assassination when past and present collide. Got it? Ok then.

You know me right? No? Maybe? Well you might have guessed that this cover, this beautiful cover, made me have to have this book. Plus, time travel you say? Southern France?? OH MY GOD. I was so damn ready for this book it was nuts. Then I started it and had no freaking clue what was going on for entire parts. Still, I enjoyed some aspects. Let's break it down.
Things I liked:
Lia. She was a wonderful main character. Smart, strong-willed, a good friend. I enjoyed following her story,

Setting. I mean Southern France and vineyards. I so wanted to be transported there. The descriptions were wonderful and I could picture all the landscapes and churches and cottages so clearly.

Romance. Past meets present love affair. Yes please.


Rose. Rose was Lia's best friend who is American but met and married a wine maker and moved to France. She extends her vacation house close by to Lia for however long she needs, She invites her to dinners and to talk and whatever else she needs in light of her husband's passing. She was really just an amazing friend.
Things I didn't like:
Pacing. This moved along too slow for me. I needed more to happen quicker.

Too much history. I know a lot of this is based on some historical stuff mixed with fiction. Still, a lot of detail was given, and names of places and people. Plus, since they were all French or similar ancient language it was hard for me to keep it all down which brings me to my next point . . .

Story/mystery confusing. I think my point above feeds into this. All the detail, plus jumps constantly from present to past confused the living daylights out of me. I had to reread sections. Sometimes I was still a bit muddled but just went wit it. I eventually got it all ( I think).

Third person. I don't think stories written in the third person usually bother me at all but this didn't work for me as much. I would have loved Lia's point of view even if the rest was done in an alternate third person.

All in all, it comes out about even, hence the 3 rating. I just wanted to love this one so much but it ultimately moved a little too slow and was a bit too hard for me to follow at times. Still, that cover gets an A+ in my book and may be the prettiest I have ever seen.  And that counts in my book.This review was originally posted on Rebel Mommy Book Blog
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews870 followers
February 22, 2016
Probably 3 stars for mystery lovers. 2 stars for me. It did not hold my interest.

I bought this book thinking it was going to be a romance, but it was not. The back cover of the book says Lia falls in love with Raoul. But the couple is not together at the end which is the romance novel requirement.

Instead, this is solving a mystery from 800 years earlier. It goes back and forth in time. Characters who lived back then, also live today with same or similar names. Some of them remember things from 800 years ago. Lia reminds people of Raoul’s wife Paloma from the past. Raoul reminds Lia of her recently deceased husband Gabriel. By the end of the book Lia solves the murder mystery.

The story uses reincarnation and maybe some time travel.

Sadly this book did not hold my interest. I wasn’t drawn in. I read the first third and the last 12%. This did not have the feel good ending that romance books have. The end was ok as to solving the mystery but was not emotionally satisfying.

I prefer NOT to read books that have two or more stories being told by jumping back and forth between them. They repeatedly interrupt each other. I don’t mind two stories, I just prefer them done chronologically. This book was too much back and forth. It reminded me of a podcast I heard recently about so many people being unable to read long articles or books because they can’t focus their attention for long periods of time. The reason is their smart phone/digital lifestyle – constantly interrupted by notifications and messages. Readers comfortable with interruptions might not be bothered as much as I was.

Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 368 pages. Swearing language: strong including religious swear words but not often used. Sexual content: none in the parts I read. Setting: current day and 1208 mostly southern France. Copyright: 2016. Genre: historical mystery, reincarnation.
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,082 reviews1,412 followers
February 23, 2016
Is Lia coming back to her roots?

Is Lia coming back to do research?

Is Lia coming back to France to try to heal her broken heart and find out more about how her husband died?

Is Lia coming back to find secrets she didn't know about people she trusted and people she shouldn't trust?

Lia Carrer probably came back to Languedoc because of all of those reasons and wasn't aware why she felt the need to return. She did know that being with her friend from college and her friend's family in beautiful, laid back Southern France was comforting.

A few of the people she found and things she saw were not comforting and hard to believe, though.

Could a few of these people have been reincarnated from 1208?

IN ANOTHER LIFE pulls you in with the detailed descriptions of the landscape and the beauty of Southern France and its vineyards.

We learn some history and bask in the love Lia finds as well as marvel at what Lia finds out about a centuries-old murder and her husband's death.

I am not sure if I can call this book historical fiction, women's fiction, or paranormal which I normally do not read. I am going to go with all three. I am not familiar with the historical part, but it was interesting to learn about this event.

The cover is gorgeous. the story line is good but confusing at times, and Ms. Johnson's writing flows beautifully and is very detailed. It is a marvelous debut novel in all aspects.

IN ANOTHER LIFE has love, mystery, murder, and history all rolled into one.

The blending of the two time periods and especially the book's ending is a bit chilling, but oh so good. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sandra.
721 reviews21 followers
January 30, 2016
This is Julie Christine Johnson’s debut novel, but you’d never know it. She handles her subject matter – Cathar history, Languedoc setting – with confidence and has put together a compelling story of love, history and mystery.
Lisa Carrer returns to France, to the place where her husband was killed in a cycling accident, drawn by the comfort of the place and the proximity of her best friend. She is looking to start anew and finish her research into Cathar history. But a strange experience on her first night in her new house is the first of a trail of events which entwine her own life in the present with people from the past, from the actual time in history she is researching.
The story moves along quickly and kept me turning the pages, told in two strands – present day, and 1208. Originally inspired by a holiday in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Johnson explains in her ‘Author’s Note’ at the end of the book, that she has draped “layers of fantasy over a scaffolding of fact”. This worked for me, I have a shallow understanding of the historical period and trusted her storytelling.
It is a love story which involves reincarnation, it is not about time travel. Comparisons to Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ and Audrey Niffeneger’s ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, are misleading. ‘In Another Life’ reminded me in style of Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy, though the stories are completely different. Both authors clearly love Languedoc and know their Cathar history.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-revie...
Profile Image for Debbie.
1,751 reviews96 followers
December 30, 2015
When I first started reading this, I wasn't sure that I was going to like it. However, the longer I read it, the more I liked it. While it was kind of unbelievable, the author made it feel like it could happen and I just went with it and it really made a good story. I found myself really wanting to know what happened back in 1208. Mostly because three of the characters in the story were reincarnated from that era and they remembered everything that happened to them during that time. Of course, the fourth main character looked exactly like the love interest of two of the reincarnated characters.

Yeah I know it sounds hokey, but it really was a good book. I really enjoyed it and was very entertained. I actually stayed up way too late reading it. I was thinking I would get a couple of hours in and go to bed. Nope, that did not happen. And, I could not wait to get back into this morning.

Huge thanks to Sourcebooks for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I was certainly pleased with my request.
Profile Image for Sherri.
326 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2016
This is a book that reminds me how wonderful it is to be captured by a story and characters to the point where you lose track of all time and want to put your life on hold so you can keep reading the story.

The story takes place in the present with Lia recovering from the death of her husband returns to France to finish her dissertation involving the Cathars. The story combines present and past with the thread binding the two stories are the characters in a very unusual and surprising way. I have not read a historical fiction book that binds the past to the present in such an interesting way.

This review is not doing justice to the book. The writing is really good. But what makes this book, in my opinion, is the truly novel way the author combines the present and the past, with intrigue, a bit of romance and compelling historical events.

This book is highly recommended for people who enjoy historical fiction!
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