Six romances, one revolution, the story of the century.
‘That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.’
At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …
Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.
Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends.
‘The Eighth Life is the saga of a Georgian family – its intricate, interconnected lives, its losses, triumphs, sadnesses, and great loves, set against the sweep of Russian history across the twentieth century ... an unforgettable, rich and textured piece of literature.’
Georgia Brough, Readings
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'The novel of the year.'
'Nino Haratischvili is one of the most important voices in contemporary German literature.'
'Everybody requires a new, vigorous narrative of European ideals, of the European past ... Nino Haratischvili has created this narrative in her new novel. The German novel of the year. Phenomenal.'
Volker Weidemann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
'Nino Haratischvili has written an epic: a novel which ranges over all of a century and half of the globe; a book within which — as in the infant's experience — everything is only love and dread. It is a coup, a gift for us from the contradictions and grandeur of the East!'
‘Not only in its length does this novel resemble the work of Boris Pasternak. You will not want to put it down. The red century devours a family, and history comes with a pinch of chocolate — Like Water for Chocolate, even.’
‘If you only read one book this year make sure it is The Eighth Life… Intricately crafted and addictive, The Eighth Life is an extraordinary, dramatic and compelling read ... The ambitious, vivid and unflinching translation from the original German by Ruth Martin and Charlotte Collins is in itself a work of art, and deserves to win every translation prize going.’