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A Masterpiece: Read an Extract From The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili

October 8, 2019

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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.

You need to read this book. If I could only write a one-line review, that would be my line. You need to read this book. The book follows the Jashi family through five generations of all too often doomed romances and across years of tumultuous history. Set at the start of the twentieth century, with ‘the Red Century’ as its backdrop, and traveling across Europe, this family are the secret-keepers of a hot chocolate recipe that is so decadent, so rich that they believe there is a magic to it. But the magic comes at a price . . .

The story is being told by Niza, the fifth-generation family member. She is telling it to her niece Brilka, in the hopes that with the knowledge Brilka will be able to escape the curse that has plagued their family. Starting with the story of Stasia who left her family home in Georgia, taking the chocolate recipe with her to Russia when she followed her new husband to his posting. Through Stasia, Christine, Kitty, Niza, Kostya and Brilka, plus a host of other amazing characters, we’re taken through one of the harshest and bloodiest times in history. But we’re shown those times through the lens of family, love and life. Their stories entrance you, keeping you turning the pages. And turn the pages you will… all 900 of them.

This is not a quick and easy read, something you pick up just to pass the time. The Eighth Life is a stunning historical lesson of life. At over 900 pages long, it is a book you want to immerse yourself in and never return from. It is very easy to lose yourself in this gripping story, but in losing yourself, you will also find yourself as you learn from the characters. You fall in love with these characters as they come and go, rejoicing with them and despairing with them. The characters have been so gloriously created, each one their own real person that you can very easily see existing throughout history. Aside from the characters, you also learn about Georgian and Russian history – and a side of that history that you may not know about.

The Eighth Life has been called the story of the century. Originally published in 2014 in German, this is the book’s first translation into English, and quickly understand why it has been such a smash hit in Europe, because it will completely blow you away. Author Nino Haratischvili has created a masterpiece, weaving together strands of stories to provide us with the end result of what can only be called an epic family saga. Once again, you need to read this book. For history, for love, for family.

Buy a copy of The Eighth Life here

About the author

Nino Haratischvili was born in Georgia in 1983, and is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and theatre director. At home in two different worlds, each with their own language, she has been writing in both German and Georgian since the age of twelve. In 2010, her debut novel Juja was nominated for the German Book Prize, as was her most recent Die Katze und der Generalin 2018. In its German edition, The Eighth Life was a bestseller, and won the Anna Seghers Prize, the Lessing Prize Stipend, and the Bertolt Brecht Prize 2018. It is being translated into many languages, and has already been a major bestseller on publication in Holland, Poland, and Georgia.


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