A Whole Life

Translated by

3.96 based on 672 ratings & 116 reviews on Goodreads.com
Picador

Publication date: 16.07.2015
ISBN: 9781447283911
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

'Heart-rending and heart-warming . . . for all its gentleness, a very powerful novel' Jim Crace

Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn't ask for her hand in marriage, but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas' heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII - where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus - and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven . . .

Like John Williams' Stoner or Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. An exquisite novel about a simple life, it has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of solace and truth. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.

In the media

Against the backdrop of a literary world that often seems crowded with novels yelling "Look at me!", it's refreshing to read a story marked by quiet, concentrated attention . . . Seethaler's scenes of mountain life are realised with spare, almost surreally vivid images. But what is perhaps most remarkable about this remarkable novel is the way that it continually weaves past, present and future into a single fabric.
Sunday Times
From its first sentence, Seethaler grips you with a quiet matter-of-factness as he delineates with a suitably spare beauty the life of woodsman Andreas Egger.
Independent on Sunday
Now another of these special, calm narratives that penetrate the joy and grief, the tiny comforts of being alive and the experiences which shape an individual has arrived . . . As haunting and as spare as Stoner. It has been sensitively and astutely translated into English by Charlotte Collins . . . a gentle, tender work devoid of sentimentality yet so evocative and moving . . . No praise is too high for A Whole Life. Its daunting beauty lingers. This is a profound, wise and humane novel that no reader will forget.
Irish Times