Books: New Review: A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks


There are a few authors who inspire complete confidence; unless something has gone horribly wrong, their newest offering will be brilliant. Sebastian Faulks is – one of those authors, but even he admits A Possible Life is like nothing he has ever written before.

‘Every thought links us. Every feeling binds us. Every thought connects us’ the novel presents. A young man in the Second World War closes his eyes in terror and pictures hitting a perfect six over an English cricket ground; across a courtyard in a Victorian workhouse a father is too ashamed to acknowledge his son; a skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with her guitar and her voice sends shivers through the skulls of the gathered crowd.

Like a symphony of five parts, five people give their names to five sections Faulks’ new book: they live very different lives in different countries at different times, but sinews of connection tie them together in ways which spark comparison with David Mitchell’s much acclaimed Cloud Atlas.

Both ask: as individuals, are we really distinguished from the rest of humanity, or are our lives tangled in a spider web of people, countries and generations? Through naivety, desperation and desire, soldiers and lovers, parents and children, scientists and musicians risk their hearts and bodies in search of a connection, a key to understanding what makes us the people we become.

However alone we might seem, or feel, the memories and experiences that echo through our history illustrate our shared humanity. Amongst the rubble of love, separation and missed opportunities is a mysterious consolation; the chance to feel your heart beat in someone else’s life.


A Possible Life is available now from Hutchinson.

Words: Lottie Brown

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