The First Time Lauren Pailing Died

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This book follows Lauren's life from early childhood through to adulthood, I found the first third of the book slow to begin with, and definitely enjoyed the latter 2/3 more. This had an interesting premise about parallel worlds, and how they may be almost the same but with small details that changed between them.
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The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a hard book to put into a specific genre but I’m inclined to go with family/relationship drama.
Lauren is thirteen when we first meet her, she is an only child and because of this her mother is very protective of her. Lauren sees sunbeams and in them her family but not as they are now. Lauren’s mother reluctantly lets her go on a two week holiday with her best friends family, here is where her first life ends and so did my attention on the storyline. The only thing that seemed a permanent character was Peter Stanning, her Father's boss, who went missing. I spent a long time waiting for something to happen with him as that was where the story i felt was leading up to and I was right but it was nothing like I thought and a bit of a let down to be honest.
Yes this is a beautifully written story but for me after the first part it fell short of my expectations. The cover was a great 70s nostalgia kick for me and I liked that and on the whole the book was ok but I felt if I didn’t read it in big chunks at a time I’d forgotten where I was up to with timelines and characters.
I would like to thank Netgalley and HQ for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
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The First Time Lauren Pailing Died is a beautifully-written novel that opens your eyes about life and its meaning. A very powerful novel with interesting story. I have read books that have a few similarities to this one, but I haven't read anything like this before. 

The main character in this book is without a doubt, Lauren. In the first chapters, we learn more about her and her parents. Lauren is an intriguing child, able to stare in the distance for a long time and able to see a different mummy that doesn't exist. When Lauren dies as a teen, the story splits into a few parts and we have parallel universes and different story lines happening.

In one of them, Lauren hasn't died at all. She wakes up and continues life as normal. In another, her parents have a little daughter and are coping with Lauren's death while raising the little girl. The third would represents Lauren's mum who can't cope with the pain and commits suicide, leaving Lauren's dad on his own. With all of the story lines, one thing stays the same - a mysterious disappearance of Lauren's dad's boss - Peter.

In every life Lauren lives - she feels like she needs to find out what happened to Peter. In all honesty, this mystery was supposed to be the centre of the story in the book, but to me it just didn't make sense at all. Once we got all the answers, all I could think of was that these two stories could have easily been made into two separate books.

While I had mixed feelings about the mystery of Peter, I definitely loved the parallel universe theme in the book. There were so many alternatives in Lauren's life. It puts into perspective how one choice in your life can make a difference in the long run. If you only change one decision, you could end up somewhere completely different.

I cannot recommend this book enough, if this is a genre that intrigues you. If you are planning to read it, I would suggest to avoid reading reviews and synopsis and go with a blank page of expectations. The less you know - the better your experience will be. Keep your mind open and enjoy. Happy Reading! 
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My thanks to HQ for an eARC via NetGalley of Alyson Rudd’s ‘The First Time Lauren Pailing Died’ in exchange for an honest review. It was published on 11 July. I subsequently purchased its audiobook edition narrated by Chloe Massey.

Lauren Pailing was born in the late 60s, a child of the 70s. She is thirteen the first time she dies....

Well that teaser hooked me totally. Lauren appears to have the ability to perceive alternative realities via strange metallic beams that initially give her tiny glimpses of other worlds. She soon realises that others don’t see them and by age seven avoids mentioning her sunbeam stories. 

After her first death her family continues, while she begins a new life eventually moving to London in the 1990s. One constant through all her lives is the disappearance of Peter Stanning, her father’s boss, and her desire to find him.

Alyson Rudd doesn’t overdo the number of alternative realities, quite rightly realising that her readers will need to be able to chart the various branchings of the narrative without feeling lost. I was tempted to create myself a flowchart just to see how it developed.

It is such a unique premise and was so well executed. It explores in depth themes of bereavement, loss, and love. I found the small differences exhibited in the alternative realities quite interesting (‘Have you heard of Shrödinger’s rabbit?’). It is a novel that I would happily reread to appreciate its multiple levels.

I feel that it would be an excellent choice for reading groups as there is plenty of scope for discussion. Highly recommended.
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I had second thoughts about this one after requesting it, but I really enjoyed it - the characters are fleshed out & still recognisable across each life while still being individual to each version of Lauren's life. The suspension of disbelief required doesn’t seem that strong as the story is written so well that you just go along with it, & I feel like the explanation towards the end almost isn’t needed. Definitely one I’ll be recommending!

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a fantastic book for a debut novelist. The characters are well-formed and multi-layered, and the plot canters with enough pace to keep the intrigue heightened to the end. In fact, I read this in just a day while on holiday in The Lakes.

The Guardian described this book as “a stylish time-slip story a la Sliding Doors” and it certainly upholds the fantastical and contemplative qualities of that film. Lauren lives simultaneous lives in various universes, with Rudd cleverly giving just enough – or just too little – detail to allow readers to interpret the mechanics of those transitions for themselves. The book echoes the narrative meandering of Kate Atkinson and has a similar feel to The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveller’s Wife in its conceptualisation.

Rudd’s writing style is descriptive and eloquent, and there are moments of sincere tenderness and pain throughout this book. It’s both uplifting and life-affirming, while exploring the depths of human suffering and the lengths we go to compensate for that pain. Rudd is a strong, engaging writer and I’d certainly read her next book.

I’d hoped there would be more of a connection between Lauren and Peter Stanning than simply Lauren’s teenage obsession with her father’s missing boss. Sure, that narrative courses through the book as a thread that ties many of the characters together, but I had a number of theories racing through my brain while reading that weren’t fulfilled, which ultimately left me feeling slightly dissatisfied by the ending. I won’t divulge them now but let me know when you’ve read the book and I’d be happy to share my theories!

I was also a little disappointed about the explanation regarding Lauren’s parallel lives. There was an attempt at physics that didn’t feel credible to me and the start of ideas about each of the worlds of Lauren’s reincarnations being slightly different (there was one where Margaret Thatcher was never PM and another where cats didn’t exist – neither one is a loss in my eyes!), but I felt these weren’t truly explored with conviction. Whether this is sci-fi, fantasy or pure literary whimsy, I wanted a deeper explanation.

Overall, this a great read with a unique premise that will keep you hooked until the very end.
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The nostalgic tone of this book really caught my imagination and it was an utter delight to immerse myself in the story. Lauren is a blessed child, with wonderful parents, lots of friends and a talent for art. She also catches sight of other versions of life lived by her friends and family through what she calls 'sunbeams' and quickly learns that this talent is individual to her and to keep quiet about her strange gift. What follows is an ever-expanding story that hinges on an accident she has in Cornwall and what life would be like for herself and her loved ones if the events of that day altered slightly. 

If you enjoyed Kate Atkinson's 'Life After Life' or Laura Barnett's 'Versions of Us' then I would urge you to pick this book up. 

My thanks go to the publishers and Net Galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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An interesting novel - not sure if it achieved what it set out to do but then I'm not really sure what it set out to do. An enjoyable read just one that I am goign to struggle to remember in a few weeks.
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I am really unsure how a feel about this book. It was different to any that I have read before. It wasn't an awful read, it just confused me so much.
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I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I read the summary but this really grew on me. The central character at first is Lauren and she's the first of several characters who I really enjoyed reading about. She's a warm person. Then as the timelines split, we meet Tim, Vera and Bob who all are so interesting as individuals. I guess the reason why I liked this so much was because it's taken a sci fi concept and gone into the human element of it. Bit of sci fi, bit of drama, bit of crime. It's got everything. I really do want to emphasise the characters importance though, because that is essentially why I liked it so much. 
I do wish that maybe we could have a little more insight into certain things, the sunbeams, Peter Stanning. But I'm okay with how it was handled.
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This really is my kind of book, the tale of a girl who lives many lives, each life slightly different, but each life the girls is definitely Lauren, yet the time is different, her families are different and her life is taking a different path. But in each of Lauren’s lives there is a man called Peter and she sets out to find him every time. 

As with many time jumping stories it does get a little confusing at times, but over all it is a beautiful story which was very well written and intriguing.
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This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.

In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.

Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?

The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.

The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.

If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Wow. Wow.
I don't like discussing the plots of books too much because of spoilers, but I don't think I'd actually be able to describe this one even if I wanted to. There isn't really a single plot - as there isn't even a single reality.
At first, Lauren is a young girl who sees strange visions of different realities. Sometimes they include the people she knows, sometimes they're complete strangers. Sometimes the worlds she sees look so similar to her own that she thinks she may be seeing the future.
As the title suggests, Lauren dies. But then suddenly she awakes in a slightly different world - one where her mother is slightly less pretty, and her accident was damaging but not fatal. She lives a wonderful life, despite feeling slightly out of place. But then she dies again, and wakes up as a mother of two children who she barely recognises. This time, her memories of her past lives slowly begin to make some sense.
I've focused on Lauren a lot there, but actually a large portion of this book follows other characters; her mother from one reality, her father from her first, and even her husband from her second life. It's all rather confusing but there are small ties throughout the book which I found to be wonderfully clever.
It was amazing and surprisingly emotional to see all these different outcomes of everyone's lives. Lauren's mother goes on to have a wonderful life, while in another reality she can't bear the grief and ends up committing suicide.
There is one constant throughout every reality, though; Lauren's father's boss, Peter Stanning, is missing. I'm not entirely sure why this became quite so important, why it was tied to Lauren's strange situation. But I was relieved to find some closure for that particular thread of the story in the end.
My two main criticisms of this book are that it is really quite confusing and hard to follow at times, and there are also a lot of mistakes and missing words. As I received an ARC I cannot be sure whether these mistakes will be printed in the final publication or not, though.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was heartbreaking and lovely and unique and strange. 4.5 stars!
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Strictly speaking this is historical, as the story starts back in the late 1960s, but like many others reading this one, the period covered also deals with my past. So the first question – does Rudd convincingly portray the recent past without holding up the narrative? Yes – she manages to slip in all sorts of little details that I had forgotten, yet were immediately recognised as I encountered them. I didn’t spot any anomalies, either – which, along with the accomplished writing and strong characterisation, helped to pull me completely into the story.

Lauren was well depicted as a small child, which isn’t as easy as Rudd makes it look, which is important, given her age when the first jolt out of time occurs. I was shaken at how Rudd tackles this – Lauren resurfaces into another timestrand where things are slightly different but largely the same. It would have been so easy to make this tediously slow-paced, or not quite convincing – showing slight differences is always harder to achieve than large, dramatic flourishes. But Rudd handles all this with ease, giving us a ringside seat into Lauren’s struggles to come to terms with what is happening to her, as well as allowing us to see how her death has affected her close relatives. As time goes by, we continue to track everyone most hurt by Lauren’s untimely death in a way that had me unable to put down the book.

Meanwhile, I also really liked how the two personalities are merged as Lauren copes in her new timestrand and learns not to mention what went before. However, the question of Peter Stanning and his sudden disappearance slowly emerges throughout all the timelines – and once Lauren realises this, she clings to the mystery of his absence, determined to try to hunt him down…

I’ll be honest – I’m not convinced that this particular plotline is wholly successful. While I liked the idea of Peter’s disappearance running through all the timelines, I felt this was built into a major mystery that didn’t have a wholly satisfactory denouement. However, this could well have been deliberate, as the circumstances surrounding what happened to Peter and how that affected both his wife and sons, also added to the poignancy of his death.

While I had been expecting an entertaining read, I was unprepared for the elegance of the writing and plotting, or the excellent characterisation. Highly recommended for fans of timeslip adventures of the sliding doors variety. The ebook arc copy of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
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This is an intriguing and well written debut novel from Alyson Rudd which tells the story of an ordinary girl growing up in the seventies, ordinary in as far as she sees steel sunbeam lights that no other person can. It transpires that these lights are gateways to parallel worlds that Lauren can glimpse into, some of them include her family and home. When Lauren is killed in a tragic accident aged 13, she wakes up in one of these worlds. The thread of the story follows Lauren as she dies again with the cycle repeating itself across several decades. In each new life Lauren has a new role, daughter, wife etc. However, there is one constant throughout all of her lives, the disappearance of Peter Stanning, which runs in tandem to Lauren’s story, does his disappearance have any connections to Lauren’s deaths? 
Despite the varying lives of Lauren and the differing time periods, the book was easy to follow, Rudd has written it so well that the transitions are seamless. The book deals with varying levels of loss and grief as Lauren’s role changes and this is dealt with sensitivity and is beautifully written by Rudd.
Comparisons are inevitable between this book and Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life After Life’ but I feel Rudd’s novel is good enough to stand alone. This is an emotionally charged and well written book with a fascinating storyline. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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If you've seen Sliding Doors then you'll recognise the premise of this novel. Lauren has felt the presence of other worlds at times, but gets to experience them for herself when she dies. Then again. And again. And again. Different eras, different setting, but always with a mysterious character appearing that she tries and fails every time to identify...

That's the book really. It isn't a thumping pace, or a detailed and descriptive read, just a slightly removed look at each character and what's going on. Clever idea, but felt too cold and flat for me to really embrace the journey.
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This book blew my mind. It is absolutely BEAUTIFULLY written. I could not put it down which meant a few late nights. I loved all the characters and fell in love with Lauren. I enjoyed the side story of the missing Peter but was a bit thrown at the end as I thought it might have something to do with Laurens "reincarnations" and was surprised when it wasn't so I didn't quite get the connection to the story. Over all a fab and enjoyable read. Will deffo recommend to my book club.
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Such an interesting premise, I was hooked from the beginning , very clever, such an original plot and the writing is wonderful. It’s a great mix of parallel lives with drama, an engaging and intriguing thread, very thought provoking, highly recommended read

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Lauren Pailing is only 13 when she dies in an accident. Only in another world she doesn’t. And so on. 

I really don’t know what to think of this book. The premise is interesting and the first few chapters hooked me but then everything just seemed .... meh. 

Each of Lauren’s “deaths” has an impact and a slightly Sliding Doors feel to them but although really well written I felt like I was just coasting with this. 

None of the characters particularly grabbed me, not even Lauren who is the main thread of the book. She isn’t seems to be accepting of everything going on around her which if I had experienced what she had I would certainly want some answers straight away. 

The common thread of the missing person gets a little lost along the way for me and is hastily tied up at the end which is something I really do t care for in a book. 

Like I said the writing was well executed and it is what has bumped this up to a three star for me. I will look at other works by the author but I cannot see myself reaching for it again. Sorry. 

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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Original, clever and very well written.. Thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable- highly recommended
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