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Life after life
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Joanna (Female), Hospice volunteer,
Sadie (Female), Hospice resident; former school teacher;
Village life
British culture
North Carolina - South (U.S.)
Massachusetts - New England (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st Century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

It takes a skillful author to write a book about death that leaves the reader feeling uplifted, and McCorkle (Going Away Shoes) is such an author. Her multilayered new novel centers on the colorful residents of Pine Haven Retirement Center in small-town North Carolina. We learn why each resident is at the center, and about their lives and families, but two women who work at the facility are also central to the story. Most intriguing is the intersection between life and death created by entries from the journal of a hospice worker named Joanna. Joanna's recollections of a patient's death are immediately followed by the dying person's last thoughts and memories. Characters are introduced then exit, reinforcing the theme of disappearing, of moving in and out of life and relationships, with some characters quickly letting go and others holding on to the past. VERDICT This excellent novel, unusual in its shifting construction, will be appreciated by readers drawn to stories about older characters, or death and dying, but there is much more to it. Fans of Southern writers such as Lee Smith and Kaye Gibbons should definitely give it a try.-Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

At the edge of death, one key memory will take hold: a meal in a beautiful restaurant, a humiliating sexual rejection, or a sky full of fireworks and stars. In McCorkle's sixth novel (after Going Away Shoes), she returns to her native North Carolina for an unsparing look at the regrets that haunt the end of a life. McCorkle's saddest and most unlovable characters are her most compelling; single mother C.J. is desperate not to repeat her mother's cycle of prostitution and suicide but knows she faces long odds. Stanley enters a nursing home and feigns dementia to keep his son Ned at a distance, reflecting, "How awful to come to the end and see that all you've been is another goddamned link in the chain that keeps out the happiness." Mired in a hopeless marriage, Ben tries to reach out to his daughter Abby with magic tricks. Vanishing girls are a recurring theme; some are lost but a few, through luck and kindness, have their lives and loves restored. Hospice volunteer Joanna, Ben's childhood friend and former assistant, is the point of connection among many storylines; she comforts the dying and records what she knows of their lives, and, like McCorkle, she's more interested in capturing moments that ring true than in providing closure. In the end it's not at all clear that families or childhood loves will reconcile and have happy endings, which is a lot like life. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p>Award-winning author Jill McCorkle takes us on a splendid journey through time and memory in this, her tenth work of fiction. Life After Life is filled with a sense of wonder at our capacity for self-discovery at any age. And the residents, staff, and neighbors of the Pine Haven retirement center (from twelve-year-old Abby to eighty-five-year-old Sadie) share some of life's most profound discoveries and are some of the most true-to-life characters that you are ever likely to meet in fiction. Delivered with her trademark wit, Jill McCorkle's constantly surprising novel illuminates the possibilities of second chances, hope, and rediscovering life right up to the very end. She has conjured an entire community that reminds us that grace and magic can--and do--appear when we least expect it. </p>
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