My Nine Lives: Chapters of a Possible Past
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a novelist of unequalled insight, grace and emotional power. My Nine Lives represents a new and fascinating strand in her outstanding canon of work: as she puts it, the 'potentially autobiographical'. Behind her poised, eloquent prose Ruth Prawer Jhabvala deftly tussles with the existential question of how destiny is shaped. In each chapter of My Nine Lives the narrator faces a startlingly different fate. One story takes place in India, the next in New York; in one the narrator is grown married woman, in another a dependent daughter, in one a scholar, in another an uneducated ingenue. But a complex thread interlinks the seemingly disparate stories: the 'I' of each chapter has Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's Jewish, Central European background. Here are nine different answers to the central question: what would happen if I were granted an alternative life?