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.