“After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the
bellman Alfonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me.”
Sam Lattimore meets Elizabeth Church in 1970s Halifax, in an
art gallery. The sparks are immediate, leading quickly to a marriage that is
dear, erotically charged, and brief. In Howard Norman’s spellbinding and moving
novel, the gleam of the marriage and the circumstances of Elizabeth’s murder
are revealed in heart-stopping increments. Sam’s life afterward is complicated.
For one thing, in a moment of desperate confusion, he sells his life story to a
Norwegian filmmaker named Istvakson, known for the stylized violence of his
films, whose artistic drive sets in motion an increasingly intense
cat-and-mouse game between the two men. For another, Sam has begun “seeing”
Elizabeth—not only seeing but holding conversations with her, almost every
evening, and watching her line up books on a small beach. What at first seems
simply a hallucination born of terrible grief reveals itself, evening by evening,
as something else entirely.
Next Life Might Be Kinder is a story of murder,
desperate faith, the afterlife, and love as absolute redemption—from one of our
most compelling storytellers at the height of his talents.
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