‘The Last Life’ by Claire Messud is a coming-of-age story set in the early 1990s about Sagesse LaBasse, a French-American girl whose family own a hotel in the south of France which was opened by her grandfather after he emigrated from Algeria. The story follows Sagesse as she explores her multiple identities and comes to terms with the events of the past.
I read this book a few weeks ago now and I have been putting off writing a review of it because I couldn’t really decide whether I liked it or not. On one hand, the story is undoubtedly well written with lots of interesting themes and observations about family dynamics. In particular, the character of Sagesse and the various adolescent emotions she experiences were convincingly written. On the other hand, I didn’t find any of the other characters easy to like or care about. The family saga unravels very slowly and I think the moody atmosphere got a bit tedious after a while.
Overall, the style of prose in ‘The Last Life’ is very rich but I just didn’t find the story as interesting or gripping as I hoped I would and I never really got into it. It is possible that this was a case where I read the wrong book at the wrong time in that I might have appreciated it a bit more had I picked it up on a different occasion. However, I haven’t read any of Messud’s other novels so I can’t really compare. Are any of them worth reading or is she just not for me?