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June 2018: Magical Realism > The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North - 4 stars

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message 1: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2297 comments I would not have shelved this as magical realism but it does have the elements. I tend to think of magical realism as having small, surprising, moments that are magical but not overtly, more subtle. This is all fantastical but with a somewhat realistic bent. 45 people shelved it magical realism so I'm using it this month.

Harry August was born an illegitimate son of a rich gentry rapist and a maid. It is England during World War II and his father is back to his military responsibilities before he knows he has fathered a child. Harry's grandmother threw the maid out of the house when she realizes what's happened.
His mother gave birth in a washroom and died right after the birth.

The story of Harry's first fifteen lives is told in the first person. He is a unique person but not totally alone in this loop of being born again. There are others that he finally finds after a few lives, the second one quite frightening to the young Harry who remembers his previous life and realizes that he is living it again.

This book reminded me a bit of another book I really enjoyed, Replay. It is quite different though, in that Harry is born all over again and must live though his earliest years, with his memory returning around the age of 7.

The story is not linear until about half-way though. He will tell what is happening in the life he is describing and then explains something from an earlier one to expand on what's happening. Then he meets a young girl who is also an ouroboran (time traveler) who brings him a message from a future he will never live to see. The world is in trouble and the impetus is his time, he has to find out what happened. This is also from Denizen's list.

This is a very clever story and I enjoyed it very much. There are many moral issues brought up throughout. I like books that get you thinking, even about something not likely to happen!


message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I’m glad you enjoyed it. I gave it three but can’t remember why! I think I found that the second half dragged on a bit?


message 3: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments This does sound very interesting! It kind of reminds me of Life After Life with the reincarnation theme.

Glad that you enjoyed the book that you read in memory of Denizen!


message 4: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 430 comments Nicole, I ended up liking this one more than Life After Life. It had a stronger story line.


message 5: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I’m the reverse! I adored Life After Life.


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