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When the First World War ended in Novem­ber 1918, an es­ti­mated to­tal of 16 mil­lion peo­ple had been killed. Those who came out alive were faced with sur­vival. In part two of his wartime tril­ogy, ti­tled So Much Life Left Over, Louis de Bernières (Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin) con­tin­ues the sto­ries of four sis­ters and their part­ners as they make their way through the years be­tween the wars. Us­ing a va­ri­ety of sto­ry­telling tech­niques and per­spec­tives, de Bernières de­scribes lives that have lost their mean­ing and ex­cite­ment. He trav­els with his char­ac­ters from Cey­lon to Blooms­bury in their search for a pur­pose that is caught some­where be­tween peace­time se­cu­rity and the knowl­edge that there would be more loss. This novel bites off a lit­tle more than it can chew, but show­ing this par­tic­u­lar dilemma re­mains a mem­o­rable achieve­ment.

Ran­dom House UK, €17.45.

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