If you could live your life over and over again, forever, how would you do things differently?
Though your material body would be mortal; you would age and ultimately die; your mind – nay, consciousness – would be infinite. How would you use this eternal mind space?
These fascinating questions are presented to you as you read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the utterly brilliant debut by Claire North.
If books were food, this would be the finest haute cuisine. A dish so rich and sumptuous, you’d be tempted to wolf it down in one bite, but would instead savour every morsel as if it were your last meal.
Claire North herself presents a classic example of not judging a book by it’s cover. In her charming bio, she is revealed to be author Catherine Webb, who, aged just 28, has penned several novels – her first being published when she was merely 14.
I can understand why there was initial speculation as to the true creator of this book, and the owner of the pen name Claire North. Many assumed the author to be a man, considerably older than Ms Webb. Looking at the photo of this unassuming and fresh faced young lady, you’d never predict her writing prowess.
Her writing style is classic, the content carefully crafted. This is a thoughtful book and everything about the reading experience screams quality.
As subject matter goes, anything involving paradox is tricky. You’ll be forced to address complex conundrums and present the reader with a satisfactory explanation at some point. Otherwise you’ll likely see your readers scream with frustration before burning your precious tome to death.
The inevitable paradoxes involved in eternal consciousness don’t present any challenge to Claire North, who elegantly spins the silken threads of this story. You finish the last page with a feeling of utter satisfaction, with no hint of a clumsy justification in sight.
If you enjoy being completely and utterly immersed in a story until it becomes as much a part of your reality as your most vivid dreams, get yourself a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.
But don’t devour it. Savour every page.