Next Life Might Be Kinder
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: May 2014
Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes
“After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the bellman Alfonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me.”
Sam Lattimore meets Elizabeth Church in 1970s Halifax, in an art gallery. The sparks are immediate, leading quickly to a marriage that is dear, erotically charged, and brief. In Howard Norman’s spellbinding and moving novel, the gleam of the marriage and the circumstances of Elizabeth’s murder are revealed in heart-stopping increments. Sam’s life afterward is complicated. For one thing, in a moment of desperate confusion, he sells his life story to a Norwegian filmmaker named Istvakson, known for the stylized violence of his films, whose artistic drive sets in motion an increasingly intense cat-and-mouse game between the two men. For another, Sam has begun “seeing” Elizabeth—not only seeing but holding conversations with her, almost every evening, and watching her line up books on a small beach. What at first seems simply a hallucination born of terrible grief reveals itself, evening by evening, as something else entirely.
Next Life Might Be Kinder is a story of murder, desperate faith, the afterlife, and love as absolute redemption—from one of our most compelling storytellers at the height of his talents.
“This latest novel, a strange and tragic love story told with great power and beauty, is a remarkable achievement. The book blends macabre elements, including murder, with an absurdity and humor out of Kafka or Pirandello. It also includes utterly convincing depictions of human love and compassion…Shining through the confusion and madness is Norman’s masterly depiction of Sam and Elizabeth’s love affair before the murder, showing two people living modest, quiet lives who are redeemed and blessed by having found real love. An inspiring and beautiful book; enthusiastically recommended for fans of literary fiction.”—Library Journal (starred review)