A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks

In A Possible Life Sebastian Faulks ponders what it is that makes and shapes  human lives. This collection of five related stories spans both past and future time-frames with some stories more successfully developed than others.

The collection opens with “A Different Man” set in 1938. Geoffrey Talbot, a teacher, has enlisted to serve in World War II and is preparing to go undercover to occupied France. Although Faulks has written beautiful and compelling novels set around the first world war including Birdsong and Charlotte Grey, “A Different Man” does not quite reach the level of his earlier work.

The next story, “The Second Sister” set in 1859 is more successful. Here, Faulks provides a well imagined insight into the hardships of life that forced families into workhouses. There is good pace to this story and the characters are nicely realised making for a more engaging read than the earlier piece.

The third story, “Everything can be Explained” is set in the near future (2029) and is perhaps the best of the collection with some beautiful writing, particularly in the excerpt of a novel that one of the characters, Bruno, is writing. Bruno and his sister Elena are perhaps the most memorable characters from the entire collection.

Sebastian Faulks returns to the past (1822) in “A Door into Heaven”, the second last piece in the collection before skipping forward to 1971 for the last piece, “You Next Time”.

Sebastian Faulks has a strong body of work under his belt at this stage including his World War I series of The Girl at the Lion d’Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Grey — as well as his subsequent novels, On Green Dolphin Street and Human Traces. 

More recent work includes Engleby (2007) and A Week in December (2009) as well as the James Bond novel, Devil May Care which Faulks wrote as Ian Fleming.

A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks was published by Henry Holt and Co.


  • ISBN-10: 0805097309;


  • ISBN-13: 978-0805097306.