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.
Huge thanks to the author and publisher for my spot on the blog tour, and for providing me with a gorgeous finished copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t read that many love stories, mostly because I enjoy having absolutely no idea what is going to happen in a novel, but as the tagline for this book says, this is not just another love story. The characters in Another Life are complicated and frustrating and very, very real. The relationship at the heart of the book has echoes of the couple in Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water, two young people who have found each other before they have really found themselves. Anna is such an interesting character, brought up in a religion that sees non-believers, or ‘worldly’ people, as distinctly ‘other’ and not to be trusted, and while she has her rebellious side, it is clear that she is still firmly rooted in the traditions she’s been raised with. I think Chapman, who draws on her own experiences here, does a wonderful job of showing just how agonising and difficult it can be to go against the only life you know – the way that Anna keeps getting pulled back to her roots is completely understandable.
Nick, too, is a fascinating character, and his family history is heart-breaking. I won’t give anything away here, but by the end of Part One, I was crying my eyes out. As we follow Nick into his future, we can see how he, too, has forces holding him back, in a different way to Anna, but no less powerful. Their interactions in later years are so poignant and realistic – there is no simple answer to overcoming the obstacles that keep them apart. The only character in the whole book I wasn’t totally convinced by was Laura, whose storyline seemed a little too convenient for me personally, but the other secondary characters, particularly Sal, more than made up for this. I loved Sal A LOT.
This novel is complex, beautifully written, utterly absorbing, and very hard to tear yourself away from once you’ve started reading. I really liked the way that Another Life doesn’t dismiss the feelings of young people as simply naive or foolish – there is an intensity to emotions experienced in your late teens and early twenties that is captured brilliantly here, without judgement or dismissiveness, and it made me ache for the time when I felt things so deeply. This is a nostalgic, intelligent, fascinating book – a love story, yes, but so much more besides.
Another Life by Jodie Chapman is out now from Michael Joseph Books and is available to purchase here.