So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernieres

So Much Life Left Over

Louis de Bernieres

This novel follows old friends over the decades after World War I as their paths re-cross or their ties fray, as they test loyalties and love, face survivor’s grief and guilt, and adjust in profound and quotidian ways to the modern world.

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They were an inseparable tribe of childhood friends. Some were lost to the battles of the First World War, and those who survived have had their lives unimaginably upended. Now, at the dawn of the 1920s, they’ve scattered: to Ceylon and India, France and Germany, and, inevitably, back to Britain, each of them trying to answer the question that fuels this sweeping novel: If you have been embroiled in a war in which you confidently expected to die, what are you supposed to do with so much life unexpectedly left over? The narrative unfolds in brief, dramatic chapters, and we follow these old friends over the decades as their paths re-cross or their ties fray, as they test loyalties and love, face survivor’s grief and guilt, and adjust in profound and quotidian ways to this newest modern world.

At the center are Daniel, an RAF flying ace, and Rosie, a wartime nurse. As their marriage is slowly revealed to be built on lies, Daniel finds solace—and, sometimes, family—with other women, and Rosie draws her religion around herself like a carapace. Here too are Rosie’s sisters—a bohemian, a minister’s wife, and a spinster, each seeking purpose and happiness in her own unconventional way; Daniel’s military brother, unable to find his footing in a peaceful world; and Rosie’s “increasingly peculiar” mother and her genial, shockingly secretive father. The tenuous interwar peace begins to shatter, and we watch as war once again reshapes the days and the lives of these beautifully drawn women and men.

Advance Galley Reviews

This book was not to my taste. I usually enjoy reading about characters living in a post war era, but the story seemed too drawn out, and dry. At times it was a struggle to keep reading. Did I reach the end of the book? I did not.

Louis de Bernieres has a style of writing that I have loved for years and years now - I was so excited to get a chance to read this book. I loved the prose in here, as I always have, but I will say that I found some of the characters to be tiresome at times. There was a chunk in the middle where I felt like I was pushing myself to continue, but I did greatly enjoy it again after I got through that! The characters are all well-written and -rounded, and I love how they all fit together. It's not always immediately clear, but tracing the threads around this community is beautiful and well-worth it. I will always recommend anything by de Bernieres, and this is no exception.

I am having a hard time getting through this book. I’m not sure what exactly is going on. There are so many stories that I hope they somehow come together in the end, but I don’t see that happening. There is a lot of slang in here that I don’t understand. I don’t like books that I constantly have to look up phrases or words. Definitely not my cup of tea (pun intended).

So much life left over tells the story of a group of friends for a period of time that starts after WWI and continues into the early days of WWII. It is the second book in a series. As a reader I was completely lost at times because I haven't read the first book. The character development was lacking but I believe it's because a lot of that was taken care in the first book. The storyline and story development were hard to understand because a big chunk of the character's lives is missing if you've only read the second book. This is not a stand alone novel. However, after reading it I have enough interest in the story and characters to read the first book in the series. I have the desire to understand why they made certain decisions and why they had the problems that seemed to overwhelm them at times. The author did an excellent job of conveying the difficulties of adapting to life after serving in a war but as a reader I now want to know what happened to these people during the war. I would recommend this book but caution other readers to start at the beginning of the series.

"So Much Life Left Over" chronicles the stories of four British sisters and their significant others during the period of time between WWI and WWII. The novel is a sequel to a previous De Bernieres novel although it can be read as a stand alone. I have not read the first novel in the series. I have mixed feelings about the book. It comes across more as vignettes than as a cohesive story. Also, some of the characters are underdeveloped or trope-ish. For example, the marriage of the two central characters falls about early in the novel, but I had very little understanding about why. Perhaps if I'd read the first in the series, I would understand more. Then the wife becomes a classic harridan while the husband is unloved and misunderstood. (Boo to that trope!) Despite the fact that I found that the characters were underdeveloped, I enjoyed the plot. De Bernieres has an excellent ability to convey time and place. Also, there were some parts of the novel that were absolutely hilarious. The use of humor was a pleasant surprise. So overall, I would recommend this book with reservations. 4*/5.

I enjoyed this book, though a little confused in the beginning. Then it all started to follow a pattern and I settled in with the characters, especially Daniel. He is someone that wants to be kind and do right by everyone, but is too accepting of circumstances and others wishes to do what he wants. I enjoy historical fiction and this books spans the time between WWI and WWII with settings in the UK, India and Germany. As a biker I enjoyed the rare addition of motorcycle history. I would recommend this book.

A British novel set during the years following WWI told from various points of view. The central characters are Daniel & Rosie Pitt whose story develops as their marriage falls apart. I enjoyed the writing and some of the plots, but found it difficult to track and become enthused over some of the people's actions. Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the A free copy of this book.

Life is precious and limited, defined by the things you do with and in it. So Much Life Left Over by Louis de Bernières follows the life of a man, and those in his world, over years of transformative events. After having established a life for themselves after the First World War, the people in Daniel Pitt's life find themselves adjusting, either successfully or with notable struggle, to the world as it shifts into something new. As their paths cross in new ways, the friends and family of Daniel's have their loyalties, love, and skills tested as the world and technology moves forward to new horizons - Daniel's marriage disintegrates into something unrecognizable, his brother struggles to find a purpose for his life if he's not fighting battles, and Daniel's sisters-in-law find ways to combat the loneliness of their lives without children. With the interim of peace threatened by impending war, many find this to be a relief as they feel more equipped to deal with war than facing the realities of their lives without it.  Following the progression of time and a world creeping incrementally toward another war from multiple character perspectives, the narrative moved at a glacial pace with dense writing that didn't come to its point until much too late, although the detail of historical elements was evident and captivating. The characters depicted within the story, though well-realized, don't seem willing or able to live their lives with any degree of accomplishing or experiencing anything novel with the unmarred time they have been given; instead, they seem only to seek the familiar of sacrifices for the sake of war and expecting to die at any moment. The issues arising from the complexities of the relationships between the characters could have resonated more profoundly with readers, but the characters felt difficult to connect with, leaving the touching nature of their experiences lacking a certain finesse.  Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

So Much Life Leftover by Louis de Berliners. I struggled with the first 2/3 of this book. I didn’t connect with characters or story. There were moments when I thought it was really going to take off but it didn’t. I can’t say exactly when it all came together for me but basically when the threat of war returned and Daniel began to make something of himself it took on a new life. In the end I could see how the entire story supported the book’s title. I left the book with some questions about Daniel and his relationships with some of the people in his life. Is there another book coming in this series? All in all, I think de Berniers is a brilliant writer although I can understand he might not be for all readers.

I’m afraid this book was not for me. The writing style is very dense and makes it slow work to get to a simple point. I started skimming the book to get to the conversations, but still found it too wordy for what was trying to be conveyed. After reading nearly 3/4 of the book, I gave up on it.

The book was dry and I couldn't get into it. I had high hopes when I read the description but the writing and plot are bland so I didn't finish it.

I didn’t really connect to this book. Maybe because I wasn’t aware that it is the second book for the series. I even tried to read the first book but couldn’t even connect to that one and didn’t feel like I needed to finish it. I wanted to love it since I’m a sucker for world war history but in the end, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

So Much Life Left Over seems a somewhat ironic title for Louis de Bernieres’ book, since it seems like the main characters don’t make much of an attempt to truly live life. This book was pretty blah to me, and I don’t know that reading the first book in the series (which I wasn’t aware of) would improve it. This book is told mostly from the point of view of Daniel, a RAF pilot during WWI, and his life after the Great War. The chapters from alternative perspectives don’t really add much to the book for me. I felt that the main characters in this book, especially Rosie, were hard to like and I felt disappointed that more enjoyable, interesting characters that the story could have been built around came off as mere distractions to the miserable lives of the married couple at the center of book.

At first I didn’t like this book. I felt that reading about the lives of people after a war was boring and ordinary and the acts of some of the characters, especially Daniel, were unnecessary and sometimes ridiculous. What kept me reading was the rich history and vivid imagery which I really loved. As the world entered WW II in the book, the characters and their lives became more compelling which coincided, I think, with everyone’s seeming enjoyment and relief in being in a new war, perhaps what had become so familiar. Just as I was enjoying the book, I slammed into the wall that was the ending. It was very unsatisfying as though the author felt like he had just gone on too long


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