Thora and Santi have met before…
Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead.
They will meet again…
They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other.
Only they can make sure it’s not for the last time.
But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?
They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.
I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Catriona Silvey’s superb debut Meet Me in Another Life today. Regular readers will know that I love speculative fiction and while this novel isn’t easily categorised – it is speculative science fiction with a touch of romance – this novel very much ticked the box for being something not quite like anything else I’ve read.
Ostensibly, it follows Thora and Santi across parallel universes, exploring their different lives and their relationship to each other. With reading, it soon becomes apparent that there’s a little more to it than that, particularly as they start to remember their other lives, learning from past mistakes, and even beginning to alter their lifestyles and decisions based upon that knowledge. It’s clear that this is more than just an exploration of parallel universes, but the truth of these events and their various lives is revealed gradually, keeping the reader hooked as they try to work out what’s going on alongside Thora and Santi. Once I finished the novel, I had to admire Silvey’s ever so subtle hints that were included throughout – so subtle that I hadn’t appreciated them for the clues they were at the time.
You can’t ever know someone completely. You’d have to be everything to them, and that is impossible.
I loved the way in which Silvey explores the vast array of human relationships throughout the novel as Thora and Santi – in their different lives – experience the various ways in which people can be connected. This includes friends, lovers, parent and child, teacher and pupil, siblings, co-workers to name a few, and while each chapter is relatively brief – typically 20 pages per “life” – Silvey successfully explores these very different relationships and the complexities and difficulties of each. It adds a very human element to the narrative and while there is a touch of science / speculative fiction to the novel, I think it’s one that holds appeal even if that’s not really your thing.
As we see more versions of them, we get to know Thora and Santi in more detail. They aren’t the same in each life, and I liked the way in which nature vs. nurture plays out – there’s a common core to each, and yet their experiences in each life have an impact on who they are. I think that both are engaging characters, although if pushed I’d say that Thora was my favourite. She’s a prickly individual, headstrong and determined, and yet gripped by indecision and fear of choosing the wrong path – something that we all battle with at some point. This lessens to a degree as the novel progresses and as she realises that – for her, at least – there will be another chance to make a different choice.
Santi seems almost opposite in many ways. He’s much calmer and takes an almost fatalistic approach to life. His faith allows him to see that he makes his own choices, and yet he feels that it’s all part of a grand design. This too lessens over time as his frustration at not understanding why they keep experiencing different lives increases. He thinks that if he can work out what’s required – a sacrifice, atonement, etc. – then they can both live a normal life. I think that – over the course of the novel – their opposing viewpoints soften until they meet in the middle each coming to see the relevance of the perspective of the other, and I think that there’s a message of being open to the views of others in this regard.
Meet Me in Another Life is a fantastic novel. It’s one that defies easy classification, but one that I think will appeal to many for that reason. Perfect for fans of Katie Khan, I highly recommend it.
Meet Me in Another Life is published today by Harper Voyager. Huge thanks to the publisher and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
About the Author
Catriona Silvey was born in Glasgow and grew up in Perthshire and Derbyshire, which left her with a strange accent and a distrust of flat places. She overcame the latter to do a BA in English at Cambridge, and spent the next few years there working in scientific publishing. After that she did a PhD in language evolution, in the hope of finding out where all these words came from in the first place.
Following stints in Edinburgh and Chicago, she returned to Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and a very peculiar cat. When she’s not working as a researcher studying meaning in language, she writes. Her short stories have been performed at the Edinburgh Literary Festival and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.
Make sure you check out the other fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour: