Howard Norman Receives Two Starred Reviews

March 11, 2014

Howard Norman’s Next Life Might Be Kinder received a starred review in Library Journal and another starred review from Booklist! Keep reading to see the reviews.

Library Journal, March 15
"Norman has been producing award-­caliber fiction for many years; The Bird Artist and The Northern Lights were both finalists for the National Book Award. This latest novel, a strange and tragic love story told with great power and beauty, is a remarkable achievement. The book blends macabre elements, including murder, with an absurdity and humor out of Kafka or Pirandello (a film is in fact being made about the murder). It also includes utterly convincing depictions of human love and compassion. The novel’s narrator and protagonist, Sam Lattimore, has recently lost new wife Elizabeth, who was killed by a deranged bellman at the Nova Scotia hotel where the couple was living after their recent marriage. Although Sam is able to function almost normally, he is psychologically destabilized by this loss and has convinced himself that Elizabeth talks with him each night when he takes his evening walk on the beach. Shining through the confusion and madness is Norman’s masterly depiction of Sam and Elizabeth’s love affair before the murder, showing two people living modest, quiet lives who are redeemed and blessed by having found real love. VERDICT An inspiring and beautiful book; enthusiastically recommended for fans of literary fiction." —Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

Booklist, April 1
"Newlyweds Sam and Elizabeth create a zone of passion, both sexual and intellectual, in their apartment in a Halifax hotel in the early 1970s. Sam is writing his second novel and, for pay, new episodes for old radio shows. Elizabeth is working on her dissertation and learning the lindy. They are erotically bedazzled, steeped in the past, and deliriously happy. Then Elizabeth is murdered. Sam moves into a cottage by the sea, besieged by memories of what led to his beloved’s violent death. Each night Elizabeth, calm and collected, appears on the beach, and they talk. Sam’s therapist struggles to dismantle this delusion. Desperate for funds, Sam sold the film rights to his and Elizabeth’s story. He now loathes the pretentious, manipulative director. While Sam struggles within a vortex of anger and sorrow, his neighbors, a designer and a librarian, offer provocative perspectives on “situational ethics” and how secrets are kept and revealed. Once again Norman (What Is Left the Daughter, 2010) portrays Nova Scotia as a mystical realm, where the dead haunt the living, and time is tidal. The inspiration for this dark, sexy, allusive, and diabolical tale is found in Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place (2013), further complicating the novel’s eerie investigation into the yin and yang of verisimilitude and aberration." — Donna Seaman