The Eighth life (for Brilka) by Nino Haratischwili kept crossing my path for a while now, maybe a year or two, but I never picked it up. Let’s be honest, it’s a beast of a book, the Dutch version has 1,275 pages. The English one is 300 pages shorter – don’t ask me why -, but I wanted to read this family chronicle i my native language. After reading reviews of Haratischwili’s signing sessions in Amsterdam and The Hague back in November, I caved and bought the book and read it soon after.The Eighth Life (For Brilka) by Nino Haratischwili
Genres: Roman, General Fiction
Published by Scribe UK on November 14, 2019
An international phenomenon: the unputdownable story of seven women living through the greatest drama of the twentieth century.
1900, Georgia: in the deep south of the Russian Empire, Stasia, the daughter of a famous chocolatier, dreams of ballet in Paris, but marries a soldier, and finds herself caught up in the October Revolution. Escaping with her children, she finds shelter with her unworldly sister Christine, whose beauty, fatally, has caught the eye of Stalin’s henchman. Disastrous consequences ensue for the whole family …
2006, Germany: after the fall of the Iron Curtain Georgia is shaken by a civil war. Niza, Stasia’s brilliant greatgranddaughter, has broken from her family and moved to Berlin. But when her 12-year-old niece Brilka runs away, Niza must track her down and tell her the truth about their family — and about the secret recipe for hot chocolate, which has given both salvation and misfortune over six generations.
Truly epic and utterly absorbing, The Eighth Life is a novel of seven exceptional lives lived under the heat and light of empire, revolution, war, repression, and liberation. It is the story of the century
Because I kept hearing about this book a lot, and everyone was positive about it, my expectations were quite high. However, I had two things to be a little nervous about: that it would take me forever to finish it and that it might get dragging at some point. Well, the first reason was true, it took me nearly two weeks to finish reading The eighth life. Alright, it’s not super long for a book this big, but alongside another (disappointing) book it is long. The second reason is nothing to be afraid of, this book never got dragging. And seriously, it’s an achievement to keep a 1000+ book interested the entire time.
In The eighth life we follow seven generations of a Georgian family, from 1900 till 2007. This means war, poverty, Lenin, Stalin and the Cold War. This also means insecurity, trust issues, lies and all sorts of things. I knew about the Sovjet times, and I thought I knew a lot. However, at school we never learnt about Georgia and what happened there. Well, it’s dirty. I was shocked. Something happened to a certain character and I was really shocked.
At first, it might take some time to get used to the writing style in this book. The beginning is told from a third person’s point of view, but the closer we get to Niza’s own birth and appearance in the story of this family, we switch to a first person’s point of view. However, both points of view get mixed and that happens fast, sometimes even within a few lines.
I really enjoyed reading The eighth life. It never became dull and it taught me more about the Sovjet times and especially about Georgia. The book doesn’t have an action-packed plot, but for this book, it really doesn’t matter.
If you’re interested in learning more about Georgia and if you’re in for a long book, I strongly recommend you to pick up The eighth life (For Brilka) by Nino Haratischwili.