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by Dan Rhodes

4*

Life – from start to finish, in all its flavours – is explored and dissected and detailed through the day to day experiences of a group of lightly connected characters. Art student Aurelie, who finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly in charge of a stranger’s baby. Her friend Sylvie, who wants only to be married with babies, but cannot find the right man – until she falls in love with the least likely candidate in the strangest way. Most dramatically of all, through the eyes of Le Machine, who puts the nuts and bolts of life – all its dirt, grime and beauty – on display, through his installation, LIFE, that places himself and all his bodily functions on display and calls it Art.

This Is Life wears its depths lightly. It is never dense or trying too hard to be clever. Consequently, it’s an enjoyable and easy read, sometimes surprisingly profound, sometimes shockingly shallow; I‘m still uncertain where on that spectrum, my feelings finally came to rest.

Real people rarely behave as these characters do. Paris, the Japanese, the English – they’re all stereotypes, but gentle ones, the digs are mildly comic and, like the rest of the tale, not meant to be taken too seriously. Nothing is believable in any sense, but I doubt it’s meant to be. It’s a modern fairytale. It would make a great film of the Michelle Pfeiffer meets George Clooney type.

The ending was especially affecting. As Life ends, a life ends.

Touching, poignant and funny. A pleasant, if unchallenging, read.

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