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Harry August lives over and over and over........

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North

I'm going against the grain here, as I didn't think this book was as wonderful as other reviewers. Although I'm not a fan of Sci Fi / Fantasy, I don't think that was why this didn't appeal. I think it was the repetition. OK, we didn't have to go through every one of his fifteen lives in full detail, but even so, by the time I'd got to life no 3, I was ready to move on to something else.


Harry August is a 'Kalachakra', a person who repeats their life over and over, yet, although he begins in the same place under the same circumstances every time, he is able to make choices along the way. One time around he might help in the garden of the large house where his father is gardener, another time he opts to study law, yet again he may decide to be a scientist. He is unusual amongst the Kalachakra in that he can remember each life in full detail and take this information forward with him.


I liked the concept of the novel, especially the ability the Kalachakra have to pass messages forward and backwards in time. The characters were well flushed out, complete with differences from life to life, though this could be a bit difficult to recall in following lives. I was a bit puzzled as to how these changes from life to life didn't result in major event changes further forwards in time, but I'll let that pass.


The pace of the book picks up about half way through when a message passes back from the future, that the end of the world is coming sooner with each life. Harry finally has an aim in his life and sets out to find out who is causing this change and put a stop to it if he can. 


We had a good discussion on the book at our book group and it certainly raises some interesting concepts, but I could have done with 100 pages less, probably removed from the early part of the book; maybe then, it wouldn't have lost my interest.