The Last Life
By Claire Messud
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780156011655, 400pp.)
Publication Date: September 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl with a ruthless regard for truth, The Last Life is a beautifully told novel of lies and ghosts, love and honor. Set in colonial Algeria, and in the south of France and New England, it is the tale of the LaBasse family, whose quiet integrity is shattered by the shots from a grandfather's rifle. As their world suddenly begins to crumble, long-hidden shame emerges: a son abandoned by the family before he was even born, a mother whose identity is not what she has claimed, a father whose act of defiance brings Hotel Bellevue-the family business-to its knees. Messud skillfully and inexorably describes how the stories we tell ourselves, and the lies to which we cling, can turn on us in a moment. It is a work of stunning power from a writer to watch.
Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1996. Her second novel, The Last Life, was widely praised and has been translated into several languages.
"A phenomenally controlled tour de force . . . Every step feels stunningly sure. –Vogue
"Haunting and evocative . . . Messud's is a novel rich in detail and warmly conveyed. . . . In its beautiful last pages, connections become crystalline, showing how we are linked in ways far deeper than religion, nationality or even blood-lines can delineate."-San Francisco Chronicle
"Remarkable . . . Messud has written a very serious book-always original, intense, and gripping."-The New York Review of Books