So Much Life Left Over

by Louis De Bernières, Pen­guin

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Christmas Baking -

Glorious poetic slice of life from Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin au­thor, of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of post-Great War ser­vice for two daugh­ter pi­lots in the 1920s. Cey­lon tea plan­ta­tion own­ers Hugh and Daniel are “miss­ing the ex­tremes of ex­pe­ri­ence that made them feel in­tensely alive dur­ing the war”. Hugh’s wife Glo­ria runs a clinic, where Daniel’s wife Rosie works. Daniel and Rosie’s daugh­ter Es­ther adores her Un­cle Archie who, over from In­dia, en­chants her with Ki­pling-es­que an­i­mal sto­ries. But when Rosie gives birth to a boy with his “out­sides on the in­sides”, who dies, “…hap­pi­ness slipped out of the door.” Daniel takes a Tamil lover, then re­turns, as Rosie de­sires, to Blighty. His mother-in-law’s gar­dener “Oily Wragge” sleeps in his wheel­bar­row. Cap­tured in Me­sopotamia, Oily re­lives the nightmare never-end­ing march, naked and starv­ing. Rosie’s father’s last will and tes­ta­ment blows the bed­ding plants out of the pot­ting shed. So many se­crets, so much sad­ness. So dust your­self off and live the life left over!

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