I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
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.
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.
Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvery is a labyrinthian, magical, mind-bending novel which absolutely knocked my socks off. I’d describe it as a cross between One Day by David Nicholls and The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but even that doesn’t quite do it justice. It is an exquisite philosophical look at life featuring two protagonists who, by the time I had finished the book, felt like they were my best friends.
It’s about Santiago and Thora, who freshly arrived in Cologne, Germany to study at University cross paths for the first time. They spend an evening looking at the stars at the top of the damaged clock tower and debating philosophical thoughts and musings. Thora is prickly, Santiago is warm and yet they find a kinship in their similar yearnings for ‘something else’. They are both restless people, each wondering if there is somewhere else they should be or something else they should be doing. It is not quite a romantic evening, but there is something there, a bond of some kind between them which ties them together. They say good night to one another and then, something dreadful happens.
This isn’t a linear novel, it doesn’t start with Thora and Santiago meeting and then dealing with the catastrophic event through three hundred odd pages. When the shattering event happens, that is the end of that particular tale of Santiago and Thora, with another, new, version of their lives taking place.
The next time we meet them Santiago is an adult teaching science in a primary school, and Thora is a curious and inquisitive pupil. Then in the next chapter they are siblings, another time they are Professor and student. They return again and again in different lives, with different jobs, different ages and a different relationship to one another, but some things remain constant such as their location; Cologne. They also remain uniquely Santiago and Thora, he is warm and compassionate, she is prickly and can be sharp, but they always, always, find their way to one another. No matter what lives they live they find themselves in Cologne and at some point their lives become intertwined.
I was transfixed by this novel. It took me a moment to get into it, I was worried that I wouldn’t like it but, the writing is so compelling and intriguing that I had to discover what was going on. It also helps that Thora and Santiago are such brilliantly drawn characters. I have to take my hat off to Silvery for her writing of two people who we meet in different lifetimes and at different ages and making sure they are always recognisable. It could be disorientating to read, jumping as it does between these different lives, but it isn’t at all. There is a constant thread which runs through the novel, making Thora and Santiago leap from the page and as I read chapters which made me weep or feel joy, I found myself understanding them fully.
It poses some interesting questions about life and how we choose to live it, asking what makes us truly happy and what we need to feel fulfilled. By putting Santi and Thora in different situations they are forced to examine their lives fully and explore what they really want and need.
The big mystery of course, is why they leap from life to life. I’m not going to spoil that for you as the path which Silvey takes to the denouement is a gloriously winding and clever one. I finished the book wanting to go back to the beginning to read it again to see HOW Silvey did this and to try and spot the clues along the way. It really is a wonderful read with many layers and lots of depth. Highly recommended.
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.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Anne Cater for an invitation to join the Blog Tour and to Harper Collins for providing a copy of the book via Netgalley.