The hunger games: Mockingjay

I finally completed my read of The hunger games trilogy, with the last volume, titled Mockingjay. Although I quite feel that the series was reaching a stale point, I managed to continue to see what the author can invent for a third book.

The previous two volumes review is here and here.

Ever since the beginning, the darker theme of this book is revealed. I don’t know if for everyone, the author managed to change the book paradigm from a simple teenage good-evil eternal battle to a more psychological and deep novel, but for me it didn’t quite succeed. I can see the attempts, but the success is a bit far.

What I mean by this, is that our hero, Katniss, is no longer eager to do all the ‘good’ deeds against the all-evil capitol and president Snow, and this time she weights in all her actions much better. We can see inner struggle, the fight for freedom, which is merely an illusion, and we can see that every action and act has a consequence, rather than categorizing each based on the good or evil label.

We are presented with District 13, the initial potential savior, which eventually turns more and more into a second version of the Capitol. I have a feeling that District 13 was the capitol initially in the first wars, and the author wants to tell us that history had a reason, and it’s repeating itself.

We see a devastated Katniss, full of anger, pain and remorse. We see much more bleak and death compared to the other books. I feel the other books were a hero novel, this time, Mockingjay is a novel of pain. Pain on all fronts, inflicted, self-inflicted, unavoidable. I would even call it an encyclopedia of pain.

We see pain on Peeta, who is completely rewritten, into something new, from a simple initial character, driven by a kind heart and pure love for Katniss, turned into a confused mind, an ill body, and a relic of a spine complete man.

We see another president, Coin, the president of 13th, who is willing to do anything to keep power and get more power. Including turning into Snow, and doing again the main one thing which brought down the Capitol: the Hunger games, with the children of their enemy as the main protagonists.

The author emphasizes again on the remote control: hurting people we care about to keep us in control. The whole Hunger Games idea, the idea behind hijacking Peeta, torturing the close ones, the loved ones. To urge everyone to comply to their desires.

We see death and despair, and the end is again bleak. The author kills off several characters, including Prim, Katniss’ sister, Finnick, but keeps Peeta, or the new version of himself.

Katniss is no longer the young girl we met. She turns into a relic of pain, but we still have hope in the end, that humanity can thrive, and happiness and joy maybe still exists somewhere.

In the end, the author tries to shift the trilogy paradigm, from teenage hero book to a psychological novel, but, up to you to understand if she managed it or not.

The Mandarins

I managed to read The Mandarins, by Simone de Beauvoir. I have been trying to gather all I could get from her, especially after already reading Memoirs of a dutiful daugther and She came to stay . More impressions are still pending on some older reads.

The Mandarins is definitely the most complete and the most challenging of her works that I tried so far. It is a complete fresque of the French post-war society, including reminiscence of the Resistance, occupation and what had happened during the Second World War.

We have plenty of characters, and situations, and the main themes revolve around love, friendship, politics, and of course, again, the human condition. As always, Beauvoir’s characters try to find a solution, try to cope with what is happening, but the existentialist issue always arises, the moral question, and the consequences of choices.

On the politics side, we have Henri Perron, one main character, who is a writer, somewhat politician , a former Resistance member, who wants to live his life to the fullest, while leaving a mark on everything. He is tied up by his former lover, Paula, whom he cheats at any possible occasion, and he wants to break free, travel the world, and speak freely with his magazine paper. He manages the L’Espoir, a post-war weekly publication, which he desperately tries to keep politics-free, but very difficult to attain.

We have Robert Dubreuilh, an older teacher and writer, who wants to get involved with politics, manages to start his own political party, but he is attacked from all sides by everyone else: communist leftists want him to merge with them, while capitalist rightists want him dissolved. His party has no success, and he realizes the nothingness of the human individual, and the very limited power, or none at all, that a single man can change anything in the world.

Anne Dubreuilh is the character most connected with Simone de Beauvoir herself, and we see the story from her perspective as well. She was a young student, marrying Dubreuilh, raising a very strange child, Nadine, and finding herself trapped in a marriage and in a shadow of a man that cannot make her happy. On the love side of the book, we see an ongoing affair between Anne and a long-distance lover, an American writer, who is just as weird as she is, and the love they find completely shakes off their existence, only to be destroyed by the distance, and by the complete different worlds in which both of them live. The pain and the sorrow of this lost love is one of most strongly depicted emotions in the book.

We also have Nadine, Anne’s daughter, a stranded child, a young woman, willing to break any rules and any kind of moral line, just for the sake of it, a late-age teenager, that is very difficult to live with. She manages to get all interesting men to spend time with her, only by bribing them into her bed. In the end, she tries a trick to get Henri to marry her, by getting pregnant against her will.

On the love side, Paula, Henri’s former lover, is the perfect model of the madwoman that falls in love and sacrifices everything for it. She loses her youth, her life, and gets committed to a mental institute, all because she could not accept that Henri dumped her and did not love her anymore.

We have a plethora of secondary characters: people from the resistance, working at other magazines: Vincent, Lambert, Sezenac, Lauchame, etc. They all model the French intellectuals of the 40’s. We see revenge on collaborators, investigations on Resistance, we see a France post-war, the hunger for the automobiles, the hunger for new clothing, for fun , adventure, music, and other many things, which were forbidden during the long war years.

Even if the existentialism in this novel is not as strong as in other books, The Mandarins presents a whole and complete world, which made me understand many aspects about the involvement of western Europe in post-war years, the beginning of the cold war, and how the economy and the pleasantries of the mid-century 20 evolved.

A very strong read, The Mandarins is the most complete and detailed picture drawn by Simone de Beauvoir through all my reads on her so far.

The rover

I read The rover, by Joseph Conrad.

The rover starts slowly, constructing a very interesting story, with very few characters, but full of emotion; and ends up in a complete thrill, with strong plot twists and lots of action.

The author takes time to build his characters, and allows us to move through the inner thoughts of every single one, in a multi perspective narrative, such that we get a complete inner understanding of their reasoning and feelings. Even in third person, we get into everything his characters were, are, and wish to be.

We have Peyrol, the main character, an old sailor, who wants to live peacefully in his last days, but is not allowed by the strong boiling blood of his French people, who are just coming out of French Revolution and starting the Napoleonic age.

Peyrol was at sea for a long time, and tries to hide the fact that he is not revolutionary, the movement which brought death to everything and everyone who opposed it, the famous French guillotine being the end of the road for so many anti-revolutionary.

Peyrol reaches a camp full of dark stories, Escampobar, where a young woman Arlette lives, a woman who saw the horrors of the revolution in her youth, being possibly mentally disordered by the tragic events which she witnessed. She is the actual heir apparent to the farm, as she is taken into custody by her only relative, aunt Catherine, unmarried and without children, and by Scevola, a dark man, full of revolutionary ideas, who is waiting for Arlette to come of age so he can wed her without appearing unchivalrous.

Everything changes when a young lieutenant, Real, arrives at Escampobar, initially without a big purpose, but things become clear once an English sloop starts watching the whole gulf near Toulon where Escampobar is located.

Being at war with the English, the French are trying to seize power in the area, and are trying to foul the English into abandoning the gulf, for them to move troops freely. Peyrol feels the danger and after capturing an English spy who was sniffing around his little boat, finds out Real’s real mission: to place false communication to Englishmen.

Arlette comes to life when she realizes that Real, whom meanwhile has become her secret crush, the object of her desire, is about to do a secret and dangerous mission in the area. Both of them realize that they have fallen in love with each other, but everything stands in their path.

The only one willing to help them is Peyrol, who uses circumstances to fool Scevola into capture, being locked down by the English spy, and to move his little boat in front the English sloop, such that the secret documents fall into the right hands of the enemy, where they are supposed to.

Peyrol changes his mind and sacrifices himself, also taking Scevola with him and his servant, such that Real and Arlette have a chance to be together.

Joseph Conrad has created a happy ending for us, in which Real and Arlette marry and live a happy life afterwards, only to remember the sacrifice that Peyrol ultimately made for them.

We see a Romeo and Juliet story with a happy ending this time, and we can salute the majestic story telling qualities of Joseph Conrad, who creates great characters for us. A little of the story looks rushed, like the falling in love of Real, sudden and complete, but otherwise, Arlette, Charlotte, her aunt and Peyrol are very well written.

A good novel, and another perspective on the French Revolution, which is highly praised today, but my feeling towards it, considering this perspective, is very much similar to the Russian Revolution.

Gone girl

This winter I happened to read Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

We can see a story of a couple, married, during their life as a couple, from several perspectives: Nick, the husband, in present time, when his wife disappears, Amy as Diary Amy, his wife, in a sweet and fake diary that presents her life from meeting Nick up to present moment, and Real Amy, the Amy that disappeared, with her real thoughts and insights.

The story starts with Amy’s disappearance, and slowly we discover what kind of people they both are. Nick is the general type of man, enjoying his life, in solitude or together with someone, not too talkative, not too eager to share his feelings or to understand women and his wife.

Diary Amy starts by presenting herself as the exact type of woman that men always dreamed of: a woman that is self-sufficient, does not need special attention, can handle herself, eager to please her man, without trying to control anyone or to blame or to enforce or change her husband. She calls herself the ‘Cool Girl’, the dream of every man, which she can be if she wants to, but not indefinitely.

Amy’s disappearance turns into a detective story, the police and the people in the town start to find clues and to consider what has happened with Amy. Nick starts to follow the treasure hunt clues that Amy has always prepared for their anniversary, and following those we discover several facts: Nick was having an affair with a very young woman, cheating on Amy for more than a year. Amy was being very distant and cold, and their marriage was falling apart. They lost their jobs, moved from New York City to a small village in Missouri, next to Nick’s parents. Amy’s parents lost all their money and were performing very bad in their business.

Nick is seen by everyone, police, people, in-laws, as the one responsible for Amy’s disappearance/death.

Nick starts to uncover the reality behind Amy’s act: Amy is the villain here, she manipulates everyone, fakes evidence, plans very thoroughly to frame her husband for murder. She does everything in her power to make the police think she is dead and Nick killed her. She even hurts herself such that the police finds her blood in their house.

Nick manages to make Amy believe that he is really sorry and that he was punished enough for his sins, through television interviews, which he was sure that Amy was watching.

Amy is attacked and loses all her money, which makes her show herself to an ex boyfriend, who takes her into his home, caring for her. She deceives the ex boyfriend, Desi, seduces him , hurts herself, kills him and frames him for kidnapping, rape, and returns to Nick.

Nick finds himself in a very awkward position, he knows what is going on, but he cannot prove anything, and the police believes Amy, as all evidence is showing exactly what she wants to show.

Amy wants the perfect husband, and she is willing to do anything to obtain that. She is willing to forgive Nick for everything that she thinks he did bad in her marriage, and to have him as a puppy husband, exactly what she always opposed about women holding leashes on men: dancing monkeys.

Nick just wants to escape this life, to get rid of Amy, as she is very dangerous and he is always scared about what she is capable of.

Amy decides to impregnate herself with Nick’s previously saved sperm bank, such that she will have permanent and total control over him, by having full control of his son, the son that Nick always dreamed of.

The novel is dark, shows the depth of human psyche, of what people are capable of, to achieve revenge, to achieve power, to control and to feel strong. Amy is the total absolute psycho type, brilliant, but very dark and willing to sacrifice anything to achieve what she wants.

Nick is a more regular type of man, but having his weaknesses, is exploited totally by Amy, in becoming whatever she decides him to be.

Gone girl is a good novel, showing a few interesting aspects about life: our desire and expectation from our life partner, how to obtain happiness, and if this happiness can be truly achieved, or it’s only the thing in our mind that makes us happy, and the things we create about our life partner, and the shape we deal to the couple relationship, and the most significant other.

Do androids dream of electric sheep ?

I had another great read from Phillip K. Dick, after reading A scanner, darkly, some time ago.

This time, the author creates a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity has destroyed most animal life, and replaced them with electric/artificial ones. Most of humanity has emigrated on Mars or different areas of space, after Earth has been devastated by nuclear waste.

One big issue that the people left are facing is the infiltration among them with androids. They act human, feel human and are very hard to distinguish from real humans. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, a person who hunts down androids to ‘retire’ them. It looks like androids are not allowed to roam freely, because their lack of empathy, they are considered dangerous. To find and test a human from an android, Rick uses a special scale of empathy measurement.

The novel centers around Rick’s hunt of 6 escaped androids, that injured one of his fellow bounty hunters. During this adventure, he meets one android, Rachel, who is a new model, one that is even closer to human kind. He starts to develop feelings for androids, especially for Rachel, whom he finds attractive in a strange way.

We are presented with both point of views, of androids and humans, and this whole metaphor looks a lot like a finger pointing to slavery. I found in androids actual humans that were exploited, harassed and victims of racism. Perhaps Philip K. Dick wanted to emphasize exactly this point.

I can also see the point of view of the androids, who find humans unpredictable and unreliable. However, we are also presented with the limitations: they refuse to fight too much for their life and easily accept their ‘retirement’ fate. The survival instinct is much stronger in sentient life.

We are presented with various ‘future concepts’ that are very scary in some manners, like the special ’emotions device’, ‘mercerism’, in which every human can connect to a device and share emotions with other people. Recorded emotions are played over and over depending on what the people ‘dial’. Because of this, connections with real life become severed and people interact less and less with each other.

We are presented with the concept of ‘chickenhead’, people who did not meet the required IQ level for emigration to Mars, the low level of the society, who has been pushed away and disregarded. Isidore, who is a ‘chickenhead’, helps the androids, until he realizes that they have no empathy whatsoever, once they mutilated a spider, the only other living being that he ever found on the desolated planet.

Deckard manages to kill the androids, only to be able to buy a real goat, which is killed in revenge by Rachel. The mirage of a living being a living animal, is something that maybe we do not appreciate at all during our life.

Again, Philip K. Dick creates a perfect balance of fiction, reality, and possible future, with subtle connections to our reality, to point out things which can make us think and reconsider our actions.

Do androids dream of electric sheep ? is a great novel, highly appreciated.

Too much happiness

I read Too much happiness, a short story collection by Alice Munro.

The book comprises of about a dozen short stories, in which the author presents different aspects of life, and how people cope with dark situations, and the crude reality of the world, not without hope though.

The title is given by the last story, which also gives the book title, in which we see the life of Sofia Kovalevskaya, a Russian writer and mathematician during the 19th century. Sofia’s life is torn from love, marriage, and aversion towards female scientists, and in similar ways reminds me of Anna Karenina. We see the horror of the 19th century incurable diseases, which are now piece of cake, but end prematurely Sofia’s life at just 41. It’s the only story that ends with death. The other stories, which I will comment next, have a small glimpse of hope.

We see in one story a man who kills his own children, but still hopes for redemption from his wife and mother of his children. The shocking truth sometimes is too much to accept, and the awful desire of wanting to relive things makes people forget the reality.

Another story is about a woman who lost her husband, and in the shock of the event, almost falls victim to a wanted murderer, but somehow manages to escape and finds new hope in what life has left her.

In a story, a woman tells her childhood drama that she managed to forget for 50 years, about she and a friend murdering another child, a handicapped child, which only wanted to be friends with them, but always rejected by the community.

Another story is about a woman who finds herself dumped by her husband because of a maid which helped in their home, but manages to find a new life, and realizing that she was teacher to the daughter of the woman who took her place in her husband’s life.

Another story is about a dying man, sick of leukemia, who is nearly abused by a woman who has strange interests in him, but the girl in the house saves him and his dying marriage by not allowing his family and the succubus to intervene in his life.

A story is about a child who evolves into a completely different man, forgetting his family, abandoning and never wanting to see his parents again, going into a life of poverty and slum, only wanting his inheritance from his old mother for his own purpose in life.

The short stories are full of emotion, and present a single thing, in a good way, but all of them are pretty dark and depressing. The feeling when you finish this book is that life is worth living, but have to be careful what do you live for, and to enjoy every moment.

Cock and Bull

I read Cock and Bull by Will Self.

The novel is strong, dark, and without any remorse. Split in two parts, similar but quite opposite, the two small novels present the hermaphrodite theme, in both ways, first, a woman who experiences the male side, and the second, the man who experiences the female side.

The first novel is more realistic, a little bit more deep into feelings and character development. Carol is a fresh young wife, not very experienced, who gets into a marriage that is not very satisfying, with a man who is not into her happiness, but turns into drinking.

The novel circles around the idea of Carol growing over time a small penis, which represents a complete new plethora of feelings, sensations, which Carol experiments, and discovers a whole new sexuality.

This however turns Carol into a somewhat monster, as her fantasies with her new penis driver her into a sexual predator, her desires transforming her completely, into a rapist, and a murderer.

The novel presents also a present time story, where a first person character presents the facts from his own perspective, hearing Carol’s story, and being abused himself in the same fashion.

The second novel, Bull, is much more difficult to believe, as the hermaphrodite is taken to absurd, Bull, a typical alpha male protagonist, wakes up one day with a vagina beneath his knee. This is again a full pack of new sensations and feelings, the author presenting the womanhood for a man, including pre-menstrual syndrome and all the other stages which a woman has to live through, but never understandable by a man.

Bull is seduced by his physicist, who is a little bit sexual obsessive, and somehow manages to get pregnant, which takes the story to the ultimate level of ridiculous.

The two novels present the harsh reality of today, gender separation, missing understanding between men and women, and two perspective where the genres blend, and what can come out of it.

Will Self is very cynical, not having any remorse in showing the dark side of sexuality, with how this can change or affect us, or make us the man or the woman which we are.

The impressionist

I read The impressionist, by Hari Kunzru, a somewhat funny, somewhat ironical, somewhat depressing long novel about the life of a young boy, and later a young man, as he develops from a rich indian boy to a slave and then a respected Englishman.

The book starts very childish, with an intrigue which is totally unbelievable and very improbable: during a storm and a flood, an Englishman and an indian woman are near to death, and the Indian woman who was bound to get married by the wish of her family, seduces the Englishman, who immediately dies, and she gets immediately pregnant, and the result of this encounter is our main hero, known initially as Pran Nath, bastard son of a wealthy Indian man, known to everyone except to him that he is a half breed and not by any chance his son.

Except the satirical start of the novel, the rest of the book focuses on some very interesting and important aspects of the early 20th century, in several chapters, which I will comment below.

Initially, Pran Nath, at the age of 14, is cast away from his father’s home, as his mad hypochondriac father passes away as a cause of his imaginary illnesses. Pran is young, scared, not used with not having everything, and he ends up giving up everything for a warm place and food.

He becomes scavenged by the body sellers, and he becomes a child prostitute, for the craving desires of the wealthy people in Bombay. He is drugged, abused, and then used to frame the English governor who becomes infatuated with him, after being infatuated with young boys.

This part of his life is known as Rukhsana, as this is the girl name that the boy receives. In this chapter we see a lot about what happens to both men and women who are sent away from Great Britain, to India, to get responsibilities , a life here, things that most of them perhaps never desired, and how this life ends in destroying their marriage, their self-esteem and turning them into low life drunks and child abusers.

Rukhsana manages to run, to escape this life, and becomes Pretty Bobby, a young boy who is liked by everyone, taken into care by the English reverend and especially his wife, who turns her attention to him from her lost loved boys who died in the first world war.

Pretty Bobby has a very good life, has money, runs errands for people, enjoys life, finds girlfriends, and lives many incognito lives with the strangers arriving in Bombay, learning to lie, to pretend, to make small thievery, to fool people into doing what he wants. He starts acting like a city guide, especially to brothers, restaurants, hotels, and other fancy activities. He falls for a girl that hangs only with rich people, a type of escort girl, but she ignores him and breaks his heart, by not believing any of his feelings. This is the first adolescent love and disappointment in Bobby’s life, leaving him bitter.

Once the reverend’s home is burned and his wife taken into custody, Bobby finds a young Englishman bound to return to England, who was never there before, with no relatives whatsoever, and with a good inheritance from his dead father, once he becomes of age. The turn of events leave this Jonathan dead, with a half-destroyed passport, only for Bobby to take his place and embark on his new journey towards England.

In this chapter we see again the hard life of the missionaries and their families, once they get to another continent, to another country and climate, their mission to adapt and survive without the conditions of the English capital.

Jonathan goes to England, scared to not be discovered, but the English snobbery keeps him safe. He goes to a private school and becomes an intern, where he learns the English ways and tries to become really English. He learns to dress English, to act English, to talk English, to love the king, and soon, his new identity is his new skin.

Things change when he falls in love again for a girl at the University, Astarte Chapel, who is the model of the pure adolescent feminine mystery, the reckless girl, the undecided girl, the never ending story of the cat and mouse, similar character with Veronica in Julian Barnes’ The sense of an ending .

He follows Astarte (nickname Star) everywhere, waits for her months when she is leaving to Paris without notice, gets involved with her father who is a crazy anthropologist in love with the Fotse people in Africa. He even agrees to embark with him on a journey to visit the Fotse.

He starts a romantic relationship with Star, and he plans to propose to her, but he leaves him again, and next time they see each other, she is with another guy, an Afro-American, who is , as described by Star, something that Jonathan could never be: a person that lived on the street, that had a harsh life, that was abused, and that has a huge story to tell.

The irony in this is complete, even when Jonathan wants to tell her the truth, he is not even listened to.

He eventually goes to Africa to the Fotse people, being too depressed to act for himself, only to find there the poverty and the life he always ran away from, but he is the only one to survive, by getting closer to the Fotse people, who save him from illness, but let the other English people die.

Jonathan starts most likely a new life, having so many identities during his short young life, that he finds very hard to relate to, and to identify himself with something. Being cast away from everywhere and everyone he has been with, he embarks on a new journey, not knowing where future will lead him.

The impressionist is a long novel, that presents many aspects of life, many of them in irony or satire, but overall a good book, about outcasts and the return to roots, for all of us.

The forty rules of love

I read The forty rules of love, by Elif Shafak.

Beautifully written, The forty rules of love is both new and old, getting the best of the both worlds, in a complete modern view, trying to resuscitate an old philosophy and to bring the attention on the essence of the Islam, which should be love, and modern family, love, and the modern needs of society.

We have one world, in present time United States, represented by a normal family woman, Ella, who reaches a middle age crisis, having three children that need her full time attention, a husband that finds no more pleasure from her and finding love in other people’s arms, and on the other world, in 1250’s Asia, where Islam is at the beginning, or at least, still solid in the principles that it should and used to be.

In 1250, we find Shams of Tabriz, a dervish gifted with sightseeing, a little bit of unnatural powers, but this I would say, only to underline his marvelous capabilities of human understanding, empathy and kindness. Shams is teaching the Forty rules of love, which are the rules of loving God, but also loving everything and everyone on Earth. This is the base of the Sufi philosophy, which also is tightly connected with God and Islam.

The author clearly wants to emphasize on the fact that Islam is at roots a religion of love. And that by following the rules, and by understanding the human nature and the love of God and mankind, the human can evolve through the Sufi steps to a higher nature, one elevated, one spiritually accomplished, where the petty human things no longer impact life, and no longer have relevance.

We are guided through the story of Shams of Tabriz who meets the scholar Rumi of Konya, and mentors him through the Sufi philosophy for 4 years, to make out of Rumi the famous poet that the world has learned of, then, and many centuries after.

We see the bond between Shams and Rumi, and how the Sufi philosophy changes a man completely, breaking him from his family and school, turning him into a higher rank individual, who now understands the universe, life, and becomes a superior being.

In present day, we connect with Ella, a housewife that struggles to live, until she meets Aziz Zahara, a converted Scot, who discovered the Sufi and the life philosophy and creates a book about Shams and Rumi, which Ella will review as part of her job. She falls in love with Aziz, with his way of seeing life, with his way of living, of understanding. She learns again what it means to be alive, and what it means to not be alone anymore.

The book is all about how love changes everything, but not necessarily romantic love, but the love and care and attention for everything around us, for embracing the life as it is, and understanding and happiness and turning into something beyond petty imagination.

Elif Shafak wrote a wonderful story, which we should all meditate about, and try to be more tolerant, more understanding, and trying to do something better out of ourselves and our life on Earth.

In another life

I read In another life by Marc Levy.

The novel is a bit about psychology, a bit about painting, a bit about love, in an interesting mix, with a cinema allure.

We get to know Jonathan, a painting expert, who is about to get married, a man dedicated to his passion for Vladimir Radskin, a fictional Russian painter. Jonathan is the type of man who lost most of his love in the couple, but he will go on with a marriage in which he does not fit much. He dedicated most of his times in studying paintings, and finding the lost masterpiece of Radskin is one of the most wanted goals in his life.

Things change when his friend Peter finds an exposition in London for Radskin’s paintings, but with one more than all his known works. Exploring the possibility of finding the missing painting, Jonathan starts a lifetime adventure, meeting the woman of his life, and of his previous lives.

He meets Clara, who owns the paintings, and during a week in London, they fall in love together. They are both afraid to act on one another, especially Jonathan who is engaged to be married in short time.

The plot unfolds with the fact that everyone has lived the same love story again and again in previous lives, Jonathan meeting Clara in London where Radskin used to work, they unfold the last years in the painter’s life, including the fact that Radskin had a wife named Clara, a daugher named Clara, and his master piece, The woman in red dress.

Jonathan and Clara relive a love story that was done over and over in their previous lives, which most of the times failed, which started with Radskin, and his paintings, and the fact that Radskin’s protector failed in his quest for power and protecting his daughters.

We find out that Jonathan’s fiancee is also involved, in a great masterplan to break Jonathan for meeting Clara, their get-together, and trying to force him to marry her, by blackmailing him with ruining his career and Peter’s.

We find out that his fiancee’s mother is a reincarnation of Clara’s stepmother, the evil mastermind that wants to break the cycle of reliving the same story.

She manages to fatally poison Clara, and force Jonathan to marry her daughter, but Jonathan will take the poison and wait for another life to be with his lover.

In a dark Romeo and Juliet theme, their current life ends, but the end of the novel gives us hope, that they meet again, in front of Radskin’s painting, this time to fulfill their love.

In another life is an interesting cinema story, with a good start, but in my opinion, rushed and exaggerated towards the end. I was hoping to see more of a metaphor than of real fantasy, but, a good travel read with a bit of emotion.