Hello! I have just finished In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson! It took me awhile to finish it because March has been a very busy month for me so far in terms of school work and deadlines.
It is my understanding that this is Julie Christine Johnson’s debut novel, and it only recently has been published (February 2nd of this year).
The Goodreads Synopsis is:
Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.
Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.
This novel was beautifully written, the writing style was very poetic which I found to be especially suiting as the setting is in France. It takes place in Languedoc which is a rural area in the central region of the South of France. Usually when I’ve read novels set in France in the past, they’ve been specifically focused on some of the more urban areas including Paris, places that the vast majority of the international community has heard of or even visited. However some of the locations mentioned in this novel including Toulouse which sits near the Spanish border, and Carcassonne were places that I wasn’t as familiar with, and haven’t appeared very often in the contemporary literature that I’ve been exposed to. This novel had inspired me to actually research more about these locations and as I was looking through photos I was amazed at how the author was able to describe and capture the beauty of most of these ancient landscapes so vividly through her writing and I hope to have the opportunity to one day travel to Languedoc and experience the culture for myself.
The novel is very unique not just in its setting and time period, but also the plot. It’s unlike any book I’ve read before and the characters are all very intelligently connected in their relationships with one another. I loved the romance between the main character Lia and Raoul. I also enjoyed the strong sense of friendship displayed through this novel.
Originally I thought this novel was going to be predominantly about a young woman, recently losing her husband and her journey with overcoming the grief from this tragic experience, and though it does encompass these aspects, the novel offers so much more to the reader. There’s mystery, romance, historical components, and even some mysticism was present in the novel. It was clear when reading this that the author has a very strong knowledge base of this location and time period and I love when I can read something and enjoy both the imaginative components and learn something about history and the world that I previously didn’t know, and I felt like this book combined both of those very well.
* As a side note, I found it interesting at the very end of the novel the authors note gives an explicit breakdown of what the true historical “facts” were and what was solely imaginative and what I found interesting was that much of the Cathars’ writing was destroyed during the Crusades which is rather sad because that means that much of their cultural practices and beliefs have also been lost.
I give this novel 4.5 / 5 stars because of it’s uniqueness and its ability to transport the reader to a different era with a whole different set of beliefs and culture. If you are looking for a novel that is unlike anything you’ve ever read before, I recommend In Another Life, because it’s very different from most of the popular historical fiction novels that I’ve personally read! I encourage everyone to read this because I loved it just that much! 🙂