Cover Image: Meet Me in Another Life

Meet Me in Another Life

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Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvery is a labyrinthian, magical, mind-bending novel which absolutely knocked my socks off. I’d describe it as a cross between One Day by David Nicholls and The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but even that doesn’t quite do it justice. It is an exquisite philosophical look at life featuring two protagonists who, by the time I had finished the book, felt like they were my best friends.

It’s about Santiago and Thora, who freshly arrived in Cologne, Germany to study at University cross paths for the first time. They spend an evening looking at the stars at the top of the damaged clock tower and debating philosophical thoughts and musings. Thora is prickly, Santiago is warm and yet they find a kinship in their similar yearnings for ‘something else’. They are both restless people, each wondering if there is somewhere else they should be or something else they should be doing. It is not quite a romantic evening, but there is something there, a bond of some kind between them which ties them together. They say good night to one another and then, something dreadful happens.

This isn’t a linear novel, it doesn’t start with Thora and Santiago meeting and then dealing with the catastrophic event through three hundred odd pages. When the shattering event happens, that is the end of that particular tale of Santiago and Thora, with another, new, version of their lives taking place.

The next time we meet them Santiago is an adult teaching science in a primary school, and Thora is a curious and inquisitive pupil. Then in the next chapter they are siblings, another time they are Professor and student. They return again and again in different lives, with different jobs, different ages and a different relationship to one another, but some things remain constant such as their location; Cologne. They also remain uniquely Santiago and Thora, he is warm and compassionate, she is prickly and can be sharp, but they always, always, find their way to one another. No matter what lives they live they find themselves in Cologne and at some point their lives become intertwined.

I was transfixed by this novel. It took me a moment to get into it, I was worried that I wouldn’t like it but, the writing is so compelling and intriguing that I had to discover what was going on. It also helps that Thora and Santiago are such brilliantly drawn characters. I have to take my hat off to Silvery for her writing of two people who we meet in different lifetimes and at different ages and making sure they are always recognisable. It could be disorientating to read, jumping as it does between these different lives, but it isn’t at all. There is a constant thread which runs through the novel, making Thora and Santiago leap from the page and as I read chapters which made me weep or feel joy, I found myself understanding them fully.

It poses some interesting questions about life and how we choose to live it, asking what makes us truly happy and what we need to feel fulfilled. By putting Santi and Thora in different situations they are forced to examine their lives fully and explore what they really want and need.

The big mystery of course, is why they leap from life to life. I’m not going to spoil that for you as the path which Silvey takes to the denouement is a gloriously winding and clever one. I finished the book wanting to go back to the beginning to read it again to see HOW Silvey did this and to try and spot the clues along the way. It really is a wonderful read with many layers and lots of depth. Highly recommended.
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This was such a mind bending read of love and life(s)
I enjoyed the various dynamics between the two leads and I cared so much for them by the end, I couldn't wait to finally understand what was happening and why
Definitely a great summer read
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A phenomenal read from Catriona Silvey. Influenced perhaps by time travel novels such as life after life, time traveller's wife, seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and even the noughties classic film "the Butterfly Effect", it surpasses them all.  I did not know where our heroes Santi and Thora were going to turn up next, or at what age, or what their relationship would be. Sometimes siblings, sometimes teacher, sometimes lovers. Like ying and yang these characters were incomplete alone but were always drawn together to Cologne, bringing with them other lovers, children, friends, parents and a blue bird.  Some truly exquisite writing, some words I had never heard of and some existential philosophy about astronomy, matter and relationships.  Fabulous, couldn't put it down.
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My thanks to HarperVoyager for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Meet Me in Another Life’ by Catriona Silvey in exchange for an honest review.

This is a novel that defies description and one that I would recommend reading ‘cold’.  I read it with very little foreknowledge of its plot, which allowed its story to unfold very naturally.

Thora Lišková and ‘Santiago López (Santi) have met before…  They first meet under the clocktower in Cologne, with the stars above and their futures ahead of them. They are not aware of it then but they will meet again and again. In numerous lives they will take on different roles: as friends, siblings, lovers, husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and student, and even enemies. They debate many subjects including religious and philosophical ones. Ultimately as they gain more awareness, they question why is this happening and why Cologne?

Catriona Silvey’s writing was exquisite with lyrical descriptive passages that were a joy to read. Santi and Thora were complex characters that were easy to engage with. It also has a wonderful feline character, Félicette, named for the first and only nonfictional cat in space. Thora explains ‘She doesn’t really obey the laws of physics.’ I smiled every time Félicette showed up in the narrative. 

Overall, I found ‘Meet Me in Another Life’ excellent. It is a novel that is powerful, perplexing, and poignant. It asks questions about life and death, fate and free will. An intellectual novel that was also very readable with moments of humour and heartbreak.

Highly recommended.
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https://lynns-books.com/2021/07/13/meet-me-in-another-life-by-catriona-silvey/
4.5 of 6 stars
Mr Five Word TL:DR Review : Took me completely by surprise

Meet Me in Another Life is a book that will defy your expectations, it will feel familiar, you’ll think you’ve got it nailed down, you’ll know exactly what’s going on here (well, sort of) right up until that moment of revelation when the author shows you that you knew nothing at all.  In between times, before that moment of disclosure, we have a story, that feels like a tale of reincarnation two people born again and again into each other’s timeline, playing different roles each time, lovers, teacher and student, parent and child, and then some more.  They’re not always born in the same place, there is constantly a disparity in where they find themselves, and yet, inexplicably they are drawn together through a shared desire to know more.  Let’s start at the beginning.

As the story kicks off we meet Thora and Santi in what appears to be their first meeting.  It doesn’t go particularly well and to an extent this is something that will be repeated over and over again in a kind of Groundhog Day style.  Don’t be put off though, sometimes they live full lives – not always together but always kind of in orbit around each other.

Now, I’m not going to say anything more about the story because, and I know I use this a lot, but it really could lead to spoilers and seriously you need to read this with as little knowledge beforehand as possible as that will only play more into the intrigue.

So, what can I discuss here today.  Well, a few things.

Overall feelings.  I liked this very much, I particularly like it given the ending – which isn’t to say I didn’t like the earlier chapters – just that the ending gives you a whole new bunch of things to think about plus a desire to backtrack and see what you missed along the way because you can rest assured that there is a trail of breadcrumbs just waiting to be pecked up by those hungry enough to pay attention.  I confess, I didn’t have the slightest notion so there we go – what can I say, I missed the breadcrumbs.

Characters.  Well, if you love characters that are well developed you’ll love these two.  Let’s just be honest, the author has a lot of opportunity to teach us different aspects to their nature, to show them in a good light or a not so good light.  To reinvent them on a constant basis but with enough consistencies to make them familiar to us in every iteration. It’s fantastic really because it plays into the whole ethos of just how well can you really know someone?  How long does it take to really know that person?  A lifetime – well, Thora and Santi have a whole bunch of lifetimes and they’re still learning about each other at the end of the book.

The setting.  Another really cool part of this – both characters are repeatedly drawn to the same place.  It’s like a force or irrepressible magnetism that they simply can’t deny.  Set in Cologne we find ourselves visiting over and over to such an extent that it becomes familiar, I feel like I could see the streets, the bars, the clock tower in my own mind.

Let’s not get away from those certain little things that are familiar.  Sometimes ‘familiar’ is comforting and there are definitely elements here that will feel like ‘things’ you know.  Obviously the constant reincarnations have a Life After Life feel.  The way that the two characters arrive at different points and places kind of reminded me a little of The Time Traveller’s Wife, the repetitive nature of certain aspects could be likened to Groundhog Day, the little inconsistencies experienced in each episode – well, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.  There are undeniably familiar elements to this story but not only does it stand on it’s own two feet – primarily because of this winning combination between science and theology that is constantly discussed and argued by Thora and Santi, one determined to believe in fate and miracles, the other sticking to science and proven things together – but, it evolves in a direction that I never saw coming.

On top of this, the story is packed with emotion which persists right up to the ending where… well, you’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, well, firstly, I cannot deny that this feels like a series of short stories with recurring characters.  Now, I’m not a lover of short stories so this could have become very old very fast for me, however, I think the author managed to get the timing perfect in that just as I was starting to feel a little ‘same old/same old’ she started to throw in changes and this is when the real mystery began.  The same thing could also be said of the repetitive nature of certain elements – this definitely had the capacity to become tiresome and yet I didn’t find it to be so because the author makes subtle changes all the time which lent it a fascinating aspect.

So criticisms. that aren’t really criticisms at all, put to one side.  Yes, this was a very good, entertaining, mysterious, fascinating and slightly heartbreaking read.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.

The above is my own opinion.
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The idea of meeting the people we love in different lives is something that has always fascinated me. In this book, each chapter is destined to a different existence, bringing Thora and Santi together several times. They come back as friends, lovers, siblings, father and daughter... They are always connected. Even when they spend decades apart, they still find the way back to each other somehow. 

The story gets even more interesting when they start to be aware of their past lives, reflecting upon how they see the world and their relationships. The author shows us that we can’t be everything to someone, since we act differently with each person, even with those we love the most. It’s also a reminder of how all our choices have consequences, even if they seem insignificant at first. It's the kind of book you either love or does not finish. In my case, I loved it and I felt inspired. It was great to finish reading it on a Sunday night.
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The most beautifully written book I have read in years. The writing was like poetry and Kristin Atherton's voice was like silk reading it to me.
I was invited to read this by the publisher, and the blurb intrigued me and I couldn't resist it! 
It was a fascinating read- how much does fate play a part in uniting souls together? If we are from different lives, do we still find each other? I have often wondered things like this- would I have still met my fiance 7 years ago had we both not moved to Chester for different reasons and worked with our mutual friend? A beautiful idea, and executed with remarkable ease. 
This book is admittedly a little into the fantasy genre, but if that genre is not your thing, PLEASE do not be put off. You will be enthralled, I cannot believe this is a debut novel.
Thora and Santi are beautiful people who I immediately adored, and their dazzling connection was palpable through the pages. 
The 'lives' Silvey chose were incredible, a huge array of different relationships that I would never have even thought of, but were utterly perfect.
An absolutely sublime debut.
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This book is so gooooooood. My first overwhelming thought after flipping past the last page was literally about how amazing the ending was, because it was that good. I don’t know why I was expecting a reincarnation love story or time travel, but both of those preconceived assumptions were thrown out the window by the second chapter and the story didn’t suffer from veering in a completely different direction to what I assumed was happening at the beginning. Each chapter begins with Thora and Santi in different roles, from teacher and student to brother and sister. Each new life is a toss of the dice: who will they love? when will they die? who are they to each other? From chapter to chapter my interest kept increasing until I was desperate to know why they had to keep living different lives.

The mystery is such a big part of what makes the reading experience so enjoyable so I won’t say too much, but I thought all the little clues and foreshadowing led to a really satisfying conclusion. Santi and Thora were interesting to read about, particularly in how their dynamic kept switching up and changing in each lifetime. The way they changed throughout lifetimes but also seeing how they stayed the same was compelling. They had character traits in some timelines that made them annoying or less likeable than in previous timelines but this only made them better, letting us see their flaws but also seeing how different actions altered their perception of each other.

The concept was unique and well executed, and Catriona has beautiful prose that made the book lovely to read. Part two was where the plot really started to focus on the how and why they kept coming back after they passed on in their previous life, and when the puzzle pieces started to fit together it was incredibly satisfying. Even though the story is about the same people living different lives, it never felt repetitive, which I appreciated.

I read Meet Me in Another Life partly by audiobook which was really good and Kristin Atherton did such a good job of drawing me into the story. Her narration was particularly good at distinguishing different voices and I would definitely recommend.

I can see why some people may not enjoy how each chapter switches to a different life but I loved it and I’m definitely interested in seeing what Catriona comes up with next.
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Well this was certainly a very different story - a bit like a constant Sliding Doors with Thora and Santo living endless lives and experiencing many different relationships along the way, i.e., father daughter, teacher student, brother sister! The scene of the action was always in the same place and some of the other characters were constant, including their cat!   I enjoyed the concept at first, found it novel and intriguing but unfortunately, for me, it all became rather tedious and confusing.  I wasn’t even sure I understood the conclusion
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There are times that a book cover can be the reason I chose to read a book or the title, and I don’t read the blurb. This was one of these books. I felt like a child on Christmas day, as I was taken off guard when one of them, what I thought was the main character, died. Then there they were again, both different but the same people. I like, what just happened?

I was fascinated as they got to know everything about each other. We are never the same person to everyone. We are different as a friend than what we are to our parents or children. Each will not know us in these different roles. Going out with friends in the evening is nothing like taking the children out. Thora and Santi get to know every aspect of each other.

They aren’t always the same age, with Santi being Thora’s teacher in one life while she is almost at the end of her life, an old woman, when he is a young man. They will love each other, hate each other, be friends, and eventually try to work out why this is happening to them.

I liked how the author had other characters interwoven in Thora and Santi’s lives, even though they were unaware of the re-births themselves. I wanted to know why this was happening in each chapter, but I did not want it to end. It is a cracking story with an ending that I hadn’t even given a thought to.

I wish to thank the publisher and Net Galley for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
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I loved this - the story of Thora and Santi, who are so much a part of one another's lives that they meet over and over again in more and more lives. Lovers, teacher and student, doctor and patient, passing acquaintances - yet all with a familiarity that there is something about the other that they know and recognise. I loved the way they knew each other from so many perspectives.

Initially this starts off a bit like a parcel of short stories - but a few stories in the links between Thora and Santi start to become apparent, and they also start to notice them. 

The lead up to the ending was a bit of a wrench - initially I felt it was quite jarring, but quickly came to the conclusion it was actually genius. A brilliantly clever addition to the time-travelling genre.
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This novel wasn’t what I expecting but it was breathtakingly beautiful and exceeded my expectations by miles. With an unimaginable and unforgettable ending, this has to be one of the most original reads I’ve read for a long time. 

The novel offers snapshots of Thora’s and Santi’s lifes; each one set in Cologne where a broken clock tower watches over them. Sometimes they’re lovers, other times they are friends or child and teacher; the novel shows endless relationship possibilities but both characters know things they shouldn’t, and see constellations that are out of sync with the ones they see in the sky. Each lifetime reveals something more about the characters and are captivating with the emotions conveyed. The small cast of characters were cleverly weaved into each life and though different, they never lost the true personality and essence of themselves. They made me keep turning the page as did the mystery connecting the Thora and Santi together. Was it fate as gentle Santi believed? Or all about choice as spiky Thora believed? When I finished the last page, I longed to begin the story again to hunt for all the clues leading to the ending I never anticipated but found so satisfying.

The limited location of Cologne worked well and as I got to know Thora and Santi through their lives, I also felt connected to the place. It has made me add Cologne to the places I want to visit. 

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

Yes. Read a copy, absorb it and then find some fellow bookworms to chat to about it because it’s too great to keep to yourself, and the themes and plot needs unpicking and discussing. It’s a highly imaginative, captivating and emotional read with many threads to discuss making it perfect for book clubs or balmy summer days when you need a novel with depth, and uniqueness that gets your neurons zinging with joy and intrigue.
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Wow! This is a story unlike any other I've ever read. Santi and Thora live multiple lives- and in each new life they meet again- as a child,  a teacher, a partner these multiple lives just keep on happening. The beginning of the book is almost like a book of short stories describing each different life. Gradually they remember more and start trying to investigate what is happening to them. A brilliant and original story with engaging and well written characters, a must read for everyone!
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A beautifully written, beautifully unique book! You really come to know the characters as you read the book and it was hard to put it down! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a book that isn’t a carbon copy. It’s new, different and lovely!
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I am so sorry to be a little late in getting this review in, I really wanted to do it prior to publication. I simply had to ponder it for a few days before putting down in words how I felt about this book. I will still be thinking about it a week, in a month, maybe even years from now.
I was left feeling moved, frustrated, anxious but mostly in awe of the writing, the plot and the characters.  This was not an easy book to write, but was a fascinating read. Every chapter a new story about how two people connect. The scenarios are wide ranging but each special in its own way. My frustration came from wanting to know more about each version of the relationship between Thora and Santi.
I am now determined to visit Cologne when we are finally allowed to travel again. It is such a big part of the story and I can't wait to go there. 
This is a book for all ages, for book clubs and for sharing with your friends. Highly recommended. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read an early copy and congratulations to Catriona Silvey for writing such a beautiful book.
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Well, I was not expecting that!  What an amazing book and an intriguing jigsaw to put together.
We meet Santi and Thora as they live their numerous lives.  Their relationship changes each time, teacher student, husband wife, father daughter, doctor patient. Their lives are based in Cologne and the same familiar faces appear.
But this is not an ordinary story, as I was reading I found myself trying to detect non variables and then items which kept repeating.  It was like following bird seed!  This is not always an easy book to follow; but please stay with it.  When the final twist is revealed everything falls into place and there is a tempation to go back to the beginning and follow the clues.
Amazing.
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I am in 2 minds about this book. At an intellectual level I've appreciated a few things, but emotionally I couldn't connect with it, in fact it bored me to the point I really wished I could have given up on it.

I have been intrigued by the premise: 2 people, countless lives. And I'd say the author delivered, in the sens that it's incredible with how many different relationships she comes up with. I also enjoyed how a few common elements keep appearing in the various tableau: a knife, a scarf, a cat, a few personages. And then, there's the twist. Imaginative and unexpected. I have read half of the novel alongside others(on the Pigeonhole) and none of us intuited what it was all about. It also gets bonus points(in fact, emotionally, I would have wanted to give it 2*) for the end. I really liked that there's no forced happy ending, rather uncommon in this type of novel. Thanks you Catriona Silvey for a realistic ending.

As for what I didn't like: well I guess I didn't developed any sentiments for the character. The story seemed a bit cold, to me at least. The first part was a bit of a roller-coaster with some stories being just alright, while other very emotional(I particularly liked the one when Santi is Thora's science teacher.). Part two bored me to death and only toward the end of part 3 it started to pick up a bit. The writing is promising but many of the ideas can be found elsewhere too.

All in all a promising debut, looking forward to see what the author has in store for us next.
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Thora and Santi meet at a party in the German city of Cologne. They have an instant and  almost familar connection until  Santi dies suddenly weeks later....but Thora and Santi will meet again. In fact, they will meet time and time again forming every possible relationship between two people across multiple lifetimes.  Eventually their multiple lives blur and they begin to spot patterns. Now they are sentient to the process, should they try and escape the pattern and if so how do they do it before it's too late?

I really loved the first three quarters of this book. I was totally enthralled by Thora and Santi's characters as I observed them lead sixteen different lives together. I began to eagerly anticipate what form their relationship would take in the next life, having already seen them merge from one life to the next from lovers to enemies, parent and child, colleagues, teacher and student and many more.  I loved spotting the similarities between lives whether it was objects, pets, or attitudes and personal baggage. It's written in a brilliant way which throws up a number of different issues for the reader to contemplate - religion vs science, optimism versus realism, what responsibilties you have if you are given the gift of multiple lifetimes. 

In the last quarter of the book, the reader is given clues that all is not as it seems and Thora and Santi are in danger. It became strange and  confusing and I became a little disengaged at that point. If you're someone that needs answers at the end, you needn't worry, you will get them in this book. I am that kind of reader too but in this instance, I felt like the answers didn't really add anything to my enjoyment of the book, more than anything I loved the process of the multiple lives and how more information about Thora and Santi were revealed in each one. They are an absolutely brilliant set of characters.

"Meet me in another life" is a beautiful, hopeful and poignant book. I am so glad I got a chance to experience it.

Thank you to Catriona Silvey, Netgalley and Harper Voyager for the opportunity to review an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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The creativity that went into this book was absolutely astounding. The twists and turns were a bit mind bending, but in the best way possible. With a story that revolves completely around only two characters it is easy for them to fall flat and become one dimensional, that was not the case this time. The characters grew as they passed through their many lives, growing old, dying and being born again. As a very character driven story it was particularly well done. The main characteristics of each, Thora and Santi, remained with them, just as our core characteristics remain with us, but they still had moments in which they surprised themselves and each other. They had spent lifetimes together and lifetimes looking for each other, but even through all this they found ways to astonish each other and surprise me as a reader with their reactions that were  plausible yet unexpected. 
By containing the entire story within one city the author created a caged feeling, which I experienced along with the characters as they tried to escape this seemingly endless loop. I found that my emotions of frustration mimicked theirs, my heart raced and I had feelings of irritation, all because of the writing that had me so enthralled as to feel what the characters were experiencing. 
With little hints that were perfectly placed to lead the reader and the characters towards a conclusion about how this would all end, I must applaud the author. 
The only problem I had with this reading experience as a whole was my general lack of interest. This is due to my disinterest in Sci-fi as a general rule, which tends to not be my genre. So this was a "me" problem, not a problem with the novel or the writing thereof. The characters were relatable and it was easy to care about them, but I found my thoughts dwelling because of the Sci-fi element. 
Since the only problem I had was a problem completely and utterly caused by my own reading preferences, I would not hesitate one moment to recommend this book to any Sci-fi fan out there. The twist at the end had me staring at the wall for a moment or two and I feel this is a reading experience that will be loved by many.
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Santi and Thora live multiple lives; different times, different ages, different versions of themselves, but always in the same location, with the people they love, and no matter what age they are or what version of themselves they are, they always eventually cross paths and come into each other’s lives.

From the day dreams as children to reach the stars and become astronauts, to teacher, to parent, to step siblings, to colleagues, the chapters are full of their different selves and lives, trying to discover what they are, what this is about, what has happened to them, and why them. 

They leave a simple message on a clock tower for each other, a message that leads or guides their story and identifies the chapters. Who are Santi and Thora, why are they stuck in this loop?  A simulation? A dream? Are they already dead? Did they make it to space? You’ll just have to read to find out. 

It was an interesting book and concept, that takes you on a detailed look at each of their lives and crossings. It is not until the end the story is revealed and you find out what was actually going on, and what it all means. I quite enjoyed it.
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