Michelle de Kretser – The Life to Come

Allen & Unwin 2017

I had just finished reading The Life to Come when it was awarded the 2018 Miles Franklin literary prize – described as Australia’s most prestigious. It had sat for a bit on my dressing table waiting for me to have time to linger over it. I love the way Michelle de Kretser writes and wanted the luxury of a slow read.

This is the second Miles Franklin win for de Kretser, who won in 2013 with Questions of Travel – which I also loved. Only Thea Astley and Jessica Anderson have won multiple Miles Franklins before her.

It may not be immediately apparent how the various characters in this tale are linked, other than through the central character of Pippa with whom one does have some sympathy but not a lot, given her single -minded, self-seeking and thoughtless ambition. But connected they are and the unfolding of this is at once sad and laugh aloud.

De Kretser’s sharp wit, with her observation of the foibles of individuals and our society, elicits giggles but at the same time one cannot but feel terribly sad about the plight of most of the figures who populate this novel.