Living one’s life over and over again, re-experiencing the same developments of humankind, and in the process gathering a world of experience… Now there’s an idea that could have sprung from an afternoon spent on Stratford’s Historical Spine.
In fact, it did.
Claire North, real name: Catherine Webb, the author of this mesmerising new fantasy bordering on sci-fi novel, “The first fifteen lives of Harry August”, had the initial idea for the story one hot afternoon, right in the heart of our immortal town.
At the time, in summer 2010, working with the RSC as a lighting technician for the Courtyard productions of Antony and Cleopatra and King Lear, she started immediately, making use of her spare time for the first phase of this novel. The book, by far not her first in her successful writing career, was published in April this year.
Harry August, the title character, lives his many lives from 1919 to usually the Mid-Nineties, thus going through times of incredible change. Each time he dies, he awakes to a new life at exactly the same time and place as ever, a child again, but with all the knowledge acquired before. At the end of life 11, he is confronted with a plea from future generations to stand up against a premature end of the world, caused by somebody’s irresponsible tampering with ‘linear’ development.
Harry August takes on this mission, finding few associates and one near almighty foe, who he chases through several lives.
“The first fifteen lives of Harry August” (follow link for some excerpts) is a fascinating read, picking up pace from exciting to irresistible, until that final moment when, with regret, the last page is turned.
- 417 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (8 April 2014)