ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Another Life by Jodie Chapman

My review today is of Another Life by Jodie Chapman, which is a wonderful read. My thanks to Ellie Hughes at Michael Joseph for the proof copy of the book. It will be published in hardcover, ebook and audiobook on 1st April.

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the End of Days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

Another Life is a beautifully written story of love in all its forms (parental, brotherly, friendship, relationships). The blurb only really skims the surface of the deep emotions contained within the pages of this book. This kind of character-driven read is right up my street.

On the surface this is the story of Nick and Anna. Theirs is an intense love story but Anna lives a different kind of life to Nick, one of strong beliefs and strict guidelines. Their love seems almost destined to fail. But it’s not only about Nick and Anna. This is Nick’s story and his family background plays a huge part in his future decisions. I’m not saying anything else about the story though. The blurb is deliberately vague and it’s best to approach reading this book with only the bare minimum of detail to be able to fully immerse yourself in it.

I love books with plots like this that jump all over the place in a non-linear fashion, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I’m in awe of the author’s ability to pull together many different strands of the story so that they unfold organically and yet non-chronologically. The action takes place from the 1980s up to the present day, starting with a shocking incident, the reasons for which become clear only as we learn of past events.

I thought the characterisations were superb from the main protagonists to the minor players, with all the roles coming together to create an ensemble piece, just as in life. Another Life really is about all of life and its myriad ups and downs but at the heart is a stunning love story that I was utterly gripped by. I feel that this is a book that is impossible to do justice to in a review. It’s so multi-layered, so thoughtful, so deliciously poignant and it delivers a sucker-punch to the heart. The writing is stunning and intuitive, and the story is one I don’t think I will forget. I loved Another Life.

Born and raised in England, Jodie spent a decade as a photographer before returning to her first love of writing. She lives in Kent with her husband and three sons. Another Life is her first novel, coming April 2021.

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