Lifescapes

Ann Wroe

£18.99

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Jonathan Cape
31 August 2023
ISBN: 9781787334458
Hardback
224 pages

From the publisher

The acclaimed biographer and obituarist for The Economist reflects on a career spent pursuing life and capturing it on the page.

It is soul that I go looking for. Or, to put it another way, real life.


'She's a genius, I believe' HILARY MANTEL
'A masterful celebration' JOHN BANVILLE
'A rare and beautiful book' KAPKA KASSABOVA


'What is life?' asked the poet Shelley, and could not come up with an answer. Scientists, too, for all their understanding of how life manifests, thrives and evolves, have still not plumbed that fundamental question. Yet biographers and obituarists continue to corral lives in a few columns, or a few hundred pages, aware all the time how fleeting and elusive their subject is.

In this dazzlingly original blend of memoir, biography, observation and poetry, Ann Wroe reflects on the art and impossibility of capturing life on the page. Through her experiences and those of others, through people she has known, studied or merely glimpsed in windows, she movingly explores what makes a life and how that life lingers after.

Animated by Wroe's rare imagination, eye for the telling detail, and the wit, beauty and clarity of her writing, Lifescapes is a luminous, deeply personal answer to Shelley's question.