A Previous Life

Bloomsbury. Jan. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781635577273. $26. F
Rich aristocratic Sicilian Ruggero and his much younger wife Constance agree to write their memoirs for each other, to be read aloud and then destroyed. In a secluded Swiss chalet, they reveal their pasts and the formative events of their lives to each other one chapter at a time. His stories highlight his privileged upbringing, his genius, and sexual encounters, while hers begin with sexual abuse by a family member at age 12 and continue through several failed marriages to older men. In the process of exchanging information, husband and wife reveal their own insecurities and identify what they most like and dislike about each other. In the midst of the storytelling, Ruggero discovers that Constance has been having an affair. Despite their open marriage, Ruggero forces her to choose between her husband and her lover.
VERDICT Fans of White’s (A Saint from Texas) will particularly enjoy this very explicit novel that explores sexuality, aging, and the complexities of love.
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