Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Life to Come” as Want to Read:
The Life to Come
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Life to Come

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,029 ratings  ·  305 reviews
Set in Australia, France, and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies, and as nations. Driven by a vivid cast of characters, it explores necessary emigration, the art of fiction, and ethnic and class conflict.

Pippa is an Australian writer who longs for the success of her novelist teacher and eventually
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 1st 2017 by Allen & Unwin
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,029 ratings  ·  305 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Life to Come
Jim Fonseca
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The settings of these interconnected stories parallel the author’s paths in life: born in Sri Lanka but moved to Australia with her parents; then school in Australia and Paris. There’s a lot about Australia and the supposed differences between the cities and the cultures of Sydney and Melbourne. There’s talk of the lack of recognition given to Australian artists, especially by Australians themselves. Their culture seems to prefer ‘imported talent.’ There’s discussion of who or what is a ‘real’ A ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
“I believe in the ethics of possibility”

This will possibly be one of the more difficult books to review as this book doesn’t really centre around a plot but more a character study. It’s also very slow moving, it’s a hard thing to criticise as the writing is impeccable but I feel I favoured the beginning chapter and the characters in that part were engaging and interesting but then the further I got in the book I lost interest. The five chapters showcase a slew of different characters but also so
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
“But imagination had nothing to do with reason: its promise of change came from the same hidden, tidal source as catastrophe and luck. It was a lever that would provide whatever shift Pippa required. There would be cracking open and mess; things would be different, if not necessarily better. After a while, life would return to its monotonous groove.”

The Life To Come is the fifth full-length novel by award-winning Sri Lankan-born Australian author, Michelle de Kretser. This novel in five parts de
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realise we’re only a quarter of the way through 2018 but I think it’s safe to say that Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come is going to be in my top 10 at the end of the year.

There’s something about de Kretser’s silky prose combined with her superbly drawn characters and her forensic eye for detail that makes this novel — her first since winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award with Questions of Travel in 2013 — truly sing. Throw in fierce intelligence and sparkling wit and you have an abso
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, modern-lit
I have now read all of de Kretser's novels and always find them interesting. This one was something of a curate's egg for me.

It could be argued that this book is a set of interlinked stories, some of them novella length. Each centres on a different character, and the only common element is that they all meet Pippa, an aspiring novelist of limited talent who is largely played for comedy.

Several of the characters are shaped by past conflicts without involving them directly, and the book is largely
With glorious prose and masterful character development, this is a story about stories - the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives.

The book is divided into five chapters, each focussing on a different character, at a different time, and locations including Sydney, Paris and Colombo. The common factor that ties them all together is a character named Pippa. And the really interesting thing about Pippa, apart from the fact that she's not very likeable, is that she really is a secondary cha
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I only persisted with this because it was set for book club. I found it a chore to wade through, as there was very little which engaged me. I had read and enjoyed de Kretser's The Rose Grower years ago, but this one disappointed me. One certainly doesn't have to like the characters in fiction, but they should at least be engaging. And if they are not, there should be a strong narrative arc to drive it forward by way of compensation, but there isn't in this case. What do we have left? Some exampl ...more
Sonja Lawrance
Nov 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t. I know I am not enjoying a book when I just don’t care about any of the characters.
I also found the jumping around from one subject to another quite distracting and It didn’t flow well for me.
One of the few books I couldn’t finish.
Lesley Moseley
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WON the Miles Franklin !!!. Announced today 27/08/18

UPDATE : Almost finished reading for the second time. UNABASHED 5 full stars!! Currently short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, and I hope she wins.

4 1/2 stars rounded up. Such a joy to read!! So many triggers brought up forgotten errors of choice, speech, and identified so closely with one of the characters, it was scary!!
It was almost as if I was on the page, and if Michelle had been MY neighbour , I too might have been excercised...

Michael Livingston
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this - an honest, funny and moving portrait of modern life. de Kretser's characters are often unlikable, but only because she's so unsparing in her portraits of them - every flaw goes under the microscope. It took me a while to settle into the structure, which jumps around in time a bit and shifts focus quite suddenly, but this really is an impressive achievement.
Georgie G
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit, author-aust
Loved this to pieces - best thing I've read all year and the perfect antidote to some lightweight tosh I'd just read. It's snarkey, funny, pointed and compassionate and one of the great Sydney novels. A treat that deserves to be read again and again.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
“She showed Glenice a book whose cover featured Ned Kelly, Donald Bradman and an Anzac. It was called Australian Heroes and had never been out of print.”

Upon receiving The Life to Come as a gift I groaned inwardly. Nobody in Australia reads contemporary Australian fiction unless they have to - because it’s bad (yeah I’m saying it. fight me). So it was truly a christmas miracle when it turned out to be FANTASTIC. Almost short stories, the characters are woven together by a connection to Australi
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: c21st, australia, 17review
At different times in our lives, we view the life to come in different ways.  Children and adolescents often yearn for a future where they are ‘grown up’ and can act with independence and agency; young adults with a mixture of confidence and trepidation anticipate a future with adventure or a career, hoping to have or do things that they think will bring satisfaction while also expecting eventually to find a loved one with whom to share their lives.  As the years go by, the anticipated future us ...more
Greg Barron
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The disconnected stories of a large cast of characters with only tenuous threads to bind them didn't work for me. I read to the end because the writing is sharp and often beautiful.
Theresa Smith
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2018
The Life to Come is a novel that is very much open to the interpretation of each individual reader. More like five connected novellas instead of one continuous novel, Pippa is the anchor for all of them, a character I both loathed and loved in equal measure. Interestingly, upon reflection once I finished, I found that I liked Pippa best when I was in her story, the part called Pippa Passes. When viewed from each of the other character’s perspectives, I didn’t like her very much at all. I’m not f ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Don't read the blurb before reading this book! The blurb misrepresents the story and sets up an expectation that is not met. Comparing the blurb with the story bothered me for the first 300 pages. Then I suddenly let it go and got into the spirit of the book.

The blurb introduces three characters but there is only one main character. Her name is Pippa and I found her difficult to like or to care about. Her flat mate George and her husband's family were far more interesting than her. I found it h
Robert Wechsler
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australasian-lit
The best things about Michelle de Kretser’s new (in the U.S.) novel are the constant freshness of her descriptions (and her writing in general) and the way she plays with time, so that one often doesn't know where one is in time, and comes not to care (and yet there is the title's theme of futures). Both keep the reader off balance, which is where I like to be.

The biggest problem for me was the fourth section, which features Pippa. I found it dull, despite de Kretser’s skills. Things picked up,
Karen ⊰✿
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like I need to preface this by saying that Literary Fiction is typically not my thing. I was given this book as a Christmas present from a client so I wanted to get into it right away rather than forget about it on the shelf ;)
de Krester is a talent and I did appreciate her writing and use of language. It just isn't a style that really grabbed me or commanded my attention. It is kind of like a book of short stories, with the concessional cross over of characters - except for Pippa who is
Christy Collins
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this a thoroughly engaging read. I couldn't wait to get back to it each time I had to put it aside. It's smart, politically engaged, timely and funny; a book for writers and for people who love books and especially for those with a particular interest in contemporary Australian society and Australian Literature.
Louise Omer
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I don't enjoy Michelle de Kretser's novels as novels. In that they are not enchanting stories that sweep across time and space to leave you panting, spent, and full of wonder.
Instead, her books are marvellous insights into human nature, incisive views into culture. I recognised the most shameful parts of myself (and others!) over and over. De Kretser SEES our society, as an artist is meant to see: she pulls off the veil of hypocrisy and posturing, to uncover white Australia's poisonous attitudes
Alicia Huxtable
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
While I ended up enjoying this book, it took me a while to get into it. I found I had to reread sections just so I understood what was happening.
John Purcell
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The novel of our current age. Brilliant in so many ways.
Cass Moriarty
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Life to Come (Allen & Unwin Books 2017) is the latest novel by Australian author Michelle de Kretser, and as we have come to expect from this writer, it is another complex and intricate story with many intriguing layers and a cast of finely-drawn characters. I was fortunate to hear Michelle speak recently at an Avid Reader Bookshop event in Brisbane, and her thoughtful and intelligent consideration of her own writing – and of the Australian literary scene – were every bit as compelling as he ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stella-prize, aus
What beautiful writing! This was one of those books that suffered from being put down and picked up again over and over during the work week. It would be much better read and reflected upon over a quiet day devoted to reading! (I need more of those).

This was filled with sharp, clear, sometimes biting observations on life and people, Australia and Australians. It’s about how people see themselves and how they want to be seen, contrasted with how others truly see them. With Australian woman Pippa
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars from me. I really enjoyed the dark humour at the beginning of this novel and wished it had continued. Pippa was such an unpleasant character that I struggled through the cringe of her actions without this levity. These are certainly intense character portraits which simultaneously draw you in and repulse you.
It was nicely written. The characters were nice. The settings were nice. But nothing really happens. I was disappointed as I have enjoyed her other books.
Marcus Hobson
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Winner of Australia’s premier literary award this year, the Miles Franklin Award, I was keen to read something by Michelle de Kretser for the first time.

I went through quite a variety of emotions with this book. Early on I was loving it, enjoying the characters and the different worlds they inhabit. Then later, my interest began to flag, because I was struggling to find a real story running through the very individual sections. Then finally I found there was a deep vein of narrative in the last
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
How shallow are we? Very, in this amazing and brilliantly written, and oft times comic satire of narcissism in the west.
Geoff Wooldridge
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is prudent when reading a novel not to let expectations interfere with the enjoyment of the reading experience, but to let the story unfold as the author intended, and to accept and appreciate it for what it is.

And so it was for me with The Life To Come by Michelle de Kretser, winner of the 2018 Miles Franklin Award.

After what I thought was a delightful beginning, feeling fully immersed in the beautiful prose and intricately drawn characters, I found I had expectations that the plot might dev
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
My response to this novel was very mixed. I usually don't like to have read the 'blurb' before I start a book but in this case, had I realised that it was a set of loosely connected narratives I would have been better prepared. As it was, I became interested in the characters in the first story, only to have them disappear - at least temporarily. Because I am a great admirer of de Kretser's work I think I also had expectations that were too high for this type of book to satisfy.

The 'life to com
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading Women: The Life to Come 1 20 May 18, 2018 06:49PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Too Much Lip
  • The Weekend
  • The Yield
  • Bruny
  • The Erratics
  • Boy Swallows Universe
  • The White Girl
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire
  • There Was Still Love
  • Storyland
  • Any Ordinary Day: Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life
  • Damascus
  • Taboo
  • Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark
  • Islands
  • Johnno
  • The Fish Girl
See similar books…
Michelle de Kretser is an Australian novelist who was born in Sri Lanka but moved to Australia when she was 14.

She was educated in Melbourne and Paris, and published her first novel, 'The Rose Grower' in 1999. Her second novel, published in 2003, 'The Hamilton Case' was winner of the Tasmania Pacific Prize, the Encore Award (UK) and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Southeast Asia and Pacific). 'The

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We’ve got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
21 likes · 5 comments
“George moved from one group of people he didn’t know to another, trying to get out of the draught. The girls didn’t seem to notice it. They were Sydney girls, with short skirts and long, bare arms. Recently, George had gone to an opening at a gallery in the company of a visiting lecturer from Berlin. The artist was fashionable, and the gallery’s three rooms were packed. Over dinner, the German woman expressed mild astonishment at the number of sex workers who had attended the opening. ‘Is this typical in Australia?’ she asked. George had to explain that she had misunderstood the significance of shouty make-up, tiny, shiny dresses and jewels so large they looked fake.” 3 likes
“people suffer much more from the promises they don’t make than the ones they can’t keep” 2 likes
More quotes…