Audiobook Review: A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks

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A Possible Life follows five stories across time and space and explores the lives that each of us live in our heads, our problems, triumphs and failures. The audiobook has five different narrators for each of the different protagonists, which adds a life to the brilliantly worded prose. The book is broken up into 2 “novellas”, flanking three short stories. Each of the stories follow a character through their lives and the lives of those around them. Faulks does an amazing job of capturing each and every character that the stories touch by introducing small but intimate details of their lives: an injury while working, a mother with diabetes, a scar from an unknown attacker, an unrequited love. My favorite story is ‘Anya’, following a young musician as he discovers a beautiful singer and helps her break into the music industry.  The most revealing moment of the story is near the end, when the man, now old and watching the singer as she plays her final concert, realizes that he was just a side story in her life, rather than the main character. 

Faulks does not tie the stories together through any definite means, although some details, like a statue of the virgin Mary or a side character named Ched, are present in more than one. My only criticisms of the book would be that Faulks chose mostly Western protagonists (3 Englishmen, 1 French woman, and 1 Italian woman), and it would have been nice to hear from an Eastern character. Its easy to see our world strongly divided East and West, but I think one of the main themes of the book was that no matter the individual life we have, we all lead the same lives in our heads, with dreams, hopes, and fears. I think having an Eastern character would have been nice to see. I also would have liked to have seen a bit of a darker character. While one of the Englishmen, Billy, is a bit of a rough character, stealing and fighting his way through the story, he is relatively fair to those around him. It would have been interesting to see a character as they manipulate their way through life, and use the people around them poorly. I suppose that every character is a jerk to someone, but none of them came across as being a truly wretched human being. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

 

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