Life After Life: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

    Ron Rash has a quote on the cover.  It says, "Like Flannery O'Connor, McCorkle's genius is to give us both philosophical speculation and a riveting narrative filled with unforgettable characters. Great writing, poignancy, humor, wisdom-all are in abundance here. Jill McCorkle is one of the South's greatest writers; she is also one of America's."  I wouldn't even attempt to say it better.  I'll only add 4 things.  1: This is a beautifully woven story with characters from 12-85 that stay with you long after the reading is over.  2:  I can not think of a single reader who would not appreciate this tender novel.   3:  The readers who have been waiting for a new novel from McCorkle for over 17 years will not be disappointed. 4: If Ron Rash loves it, don't you think you should give it a read?

— Jessilynn

This is a contemplative, poignant, and humorous book that seems very appropriate for this time of year. The author, Jill McCorkle, was a speaker at McLean & Eakin during Booktopia in the Summer of 2013, and the writing is all her - smart, funny and insightful.

Joanna Lamb, after a few marriages, missteps, and aha-experiences, is now a Hospice volunteer at a retirement facility in North Carolina. In addition to her official duties and records, she writes in a personal notebook the most important things in her patients' lives before they die, just as she promised the friend who turned Joanna's life around.  And what a cast of characters these patients are.... More sane than Fanny Flagg's, but as Ms. McCorkle explains in an interview at the end of the book, she only felt one character was completely unredeemable and another that could go either way. Though some of her patients' lives intertwine, they each have their own story.

What creates the actual plot of the book is Joanna's relationship with two of her youngest characters - one with a secret and the other with a troubled home-life. The resolutions at the end are both heart-wrenching for different reasons.

A great read!

— Karen M.


Award-winning author Jill McCorkle takes us on a splendid journey through time and memory in this, her tenth work of fiction. Life After Life is filled with a sense of wonder at our capacity for self-discovery at any age. And the residents, staff, and neighbors of the Pine Haven retirement center (from twelve-year-old Abby to eighty-five-year-old Sadie) share some of life’s most profound discoveries and are some of the most true-to-life characters that you are ever likely to meet in fiction. Delivered with her trademark wit, Jill McCorkle’s constantly surprising novel illuminates the possibilities of second chances, hope, and rediscovering life right up to the very end. She has conjured an entire community that reminds us that grace and magic can—and do—appear when we least expect it. 

About the Author

Jill McCorkle is the author of nine previous books—four story collections and five novels—five of which have been selected as New York Times Notable Books. The recipient of the New England Book Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Prize for Literature, she teaches writing at North Carolina State University and lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Visit her online at 

Praise For…

"Who knew death, regret, and lengthy ruminations about days past could add up to a novel this vibrant, hopeful, and compelling? . . . Gorgeously written . . . McCorkle's greatest gift is in illuminating the countless tiny moments that make up our time on Earth." —O: The Oprah Magazine

"Clever, bighearted, and wise." —Vanity Fair

“The elderly residents of Pine Haven live and yearn and challenge one another with an exuberance that jumps off the page.”—The New York Times “Home & Garden” section

“Leave it to McCorkle to plumb the ultimate new beginning in this down-home, Southern-style Book of the Dead. Illuminating, reassuring, and enlarging our understanding of the crossing from this world to the next, her novel sings with the mystical, the magical and the fragility of this thing called life.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Balances humor and sorrow.” —NPR’s All Things Considered

“A vividly voiced round-robin of interlocking stories set in and around a North Carolina retirement home . . . Great . . . Sharply real.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Funny and painful, Life After Life explores not dying, but rather the mysteries of living — the second chances, the human connection, the love. The result is an impressive and poignant interweaving of vibrant characters; overlapping tales create a whole that is greater than the separate parts. McCorkle returns to the novel with a deeper wisdom and moral intensity. With a Southern flair, she invites the reader to muse on what matters most in the days we are given. Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes.”Richmond Times-Dispatch

“McCorkle’s masterful microcosm invokes profound sadness, harsh insight and guffaws, often on the same page.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A powerful gift for dialogue has always animated Jill McCorkle’s fiction, and here we hear some astonishing voices . . . As readers, we feel honored to witness their passages.” —The Boston Globe

“A story and characters that readers won’t soon forget.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Product Details
ISBN: 9781616203221
ISBN-10: 1616203226
Publisher: A Shannon Ravenel Book
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Pages: 368
Language: English

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