I was intrigued by the title of this but didn’t know anything else about it, despite the fact that it’s sold 2 million copies. And for the purposes of this review, I’m going to shorten its title to Your Second Life Begins but first here’s a little more about it:
At thirty-eight and a quarter years old, Camille has everything she needs to be happy, or so it seems: a good job, a loving husband, a wonderful son. Why then does she feel as if happiness has slipped through her fingers? All she wants is to find the path to joy.
When Claude, a French Sean Connery lookalike and routinologist, offers his unique advice to help get her there, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. Camille’s journey is full of surprising adventures, creative capers and deep meaning, as she sets out to transform her life and realize her dreams one step at a time.
Your Second Life Begins is more of a self-help fable than the novel I was expecting, which meant that I initially struggled with the writing style, and didn’t feel as if the characters were fleshed out enough. I also found Camille a little too whiny: she runs to Claude at every little setback. But then once he’s given her a nudge in the right direction, she overcomes all obstacles, fairly easily, with optimum outcomes.
Or so it seems. That might not be a fair assessment because she does put in time and effort on the assignments Claude sets her. It’s just that it feels glossed over thanks to how Your Second Life Begins is written. I’m also aware that Camille needs to progress through the tasks and challenges reasonably quickly to keep the reader engaged but the transformations that come about in Camille and her life still seem too good to be true. That’s the cynic in me, though… and I’ll get back to you once I’ve finished working through them myself!
Your Second Life Begins is a quick and easy, upbeat read: I read it in one short sitting. Raphaëlle Giordano has come up with some really interesting challenges for anyone who wonders if this is it, and if their life could be improved. She collects them together at the end of the book, too, which is a great reference tool if you want to try any of them out, and it means you don’t have to jot them down while reading but simply enjoy following Camille’s journey instead. And some of the ways in which Claude encourages Camille to get out of her comfort zone and make changes to her life are amusing and entertaining, even if you may have to find your own alternative and won’t be able to try them all at home.
So, yes, I had a couple of issues with this book but I’m grateful that it came along when it did. I took so much from it: Your Second Life Begins made me look at things differently (never a waste of time), think about where I am and what makes me happy. This offbeat adventure in happiness is an insightful read.
Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One by Raphaëlle Giordano is published by Bantam, an imprint of Transworld. It is available as an audiobook and an ebook and in hardback. You can find it at Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop), Waterstones and Wordery.
Raphaëlle Giordano is a writer, artist and expert in personal development. She lives in Paris, France. Your Second Life Begins When You Realise You Only Have One is her first novel.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.