So Much Life Left Over

Louis de Bernières. Pantheon, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-524-74788-6
England between the two world wars is revisited in this witty and heartfelt novel. Daniel Pitt, a former RFC pilot, is married to Rosie McCosh and runs a tea factory in Ceylon. His brother, Archie, a solider on the North-West Frontier (what is present-day Pakistan), is secretly in love with Rosie—just as Rosie’s spinster sister, Ottilie, back at home in England, is secretly in love with Archie. Readers also meet Rosie’s other sister, Christabel, a bohemian who has a special relationship with Gaskell, a female barnstorming artist; Oily Wragge, the gardener on the McCosh family estate, who suffers from nightmares about his war experiences; and various and sundry mistresses of unhappily married Daniel, who bear him several illegitimate children over the years. Through a variety of points of view, de Bernières (Corelli’s Mandolin) creates an impressionistic depiction of Britain recovering from one world war and slipping inexorably into another as motion pictures begin to talk, land and air records are set, and Daniel and his friends and family heroically try to adjust to changing times. The novel is light on plot, but the characters are such excellent company that it makes for an irresistible reading experience, especially for fans of Downton Abbey. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/07/2018

Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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