So Much Life Left Over: A Novel. Louis de Bernieres. Knopf Doubleday. August 2018. 288 pp. ISBN#: 9781524747886.
Daniel Pitt longs for the glory days when he was a Flying Ace in WWII. The camaraderie of his fellow pilots and avoidance of petty squabbles because of the daily reality that some will live and others will die every time they take to the air in battle. Now, the war is over and he is married to Rosie, a former wartime nurse. They live in Ceylon, which Daniel loves and Rosie hates. They have two children whom Daniel adores. Rosie is continuously demanding they return to live in England and Daniel is heartbroken, as his love for the natives and their culture, especially one woman in particular, have to be sacrificed for his wife’s sanity.
Meanwhile, Daniel commiserates with his buddy Hugh and is totally oblivious to why his brother Archie is very troubled beyond his obvious PTSD from the war. Other characters like their gardener, Oily Wragge, are cheery blokes who save this story from excessive heaviness. The story evolves as everyone eventually has to grow up and realize that past dreams are gone, if one chooses, and decisions must be made of how to make a meaningful future. Both Daniel and Rosie give the character insight into what they believe, don’t believe, and what they are constantly speculating about; that is what a devastating war does to people, even the British with their “stiff upper lip.”
Louis de Bernieres is a superb writer who gives the reader characters we want to meet and get to know more and more. The plot is simple but the complexity of character portrayal makes this a sequel one can enjoy as a stand alone novel. Rather than stereotype these British characters and their thoughts about colonization, religion, etc., we instead have several narrative voices who when combined produce an outstanding work of historical fiction!
Highly recommended reading! Now this reviewer wants to read the first novel in this series and looks forward to the next one!
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