Levels of Life

Festivals' Book Club - June 2014

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Welcome to Festivals’ Book Club, in association with Vintage Books. Each month, we’ll be reading a different title and would love you to join us: either at our live book group in Cheltenham, or by sharing your thoughts online.

  1. We’ll announce the title on cheltenhamfestivals.com
  2. You have four weeks to read it
  3. Cheltenham Festivals Member? Apply to take part in our LIVE Cheltenham group and receive a free copy of the book
  4. Like to purchase your own copy? Save 5% at Cheltenham Waterstones as a Cheltenham Festivals Member
  5. Four weeks later, read what our Book Group thought and add your own opinions and comments online

June Book Club:

Levels of Life Julian Barnes

In association with

It is extraordinary… [It] would seem to pull off the impossible: to recreate, on the page, what it is like to be alive in the world.

Emma Brockes, Guardian

‘You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed…’ Julian Barnes’s new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him as ‘an unparalleled magus of the heart’. This book confirms that opinion.

Take part

Thursday, June 12th at The Daily Bean, COOK, Bath Road, Cheltenham
Cheltenham Festivals Member? Apply for your free book and chance to attend.

Apply now

Can’t attend? Save 5% on this title at Waterstones Cheltenham with Cheltenham Festivals Membership.

Levels of Life is both a supremely crafted artefact and a desolating guidebook to the land of loss.

John Carey, Sunday Times

Note from the editor

Levels of Life is a book of extraordinary power. In its three distinct sections, Julian Barnes firstly tells of Nadar, the pioneer balloonist and photographer who dares to take to the skies and see the world anew; he then gives us Sarah Bernhardt, an enigmatic beauty who ensnares the unsuspecting Colonel Fred Burnaby, only to reject the great adventurer’s advances. And finally he shares the story of his own grief, an account of loss that is at once immensely moving in its depiction of sorrow, and yet also sincerely uplifting in its astonishing candour. It is a book about ambition and demise, about generosity of spirit and courage of heart, about the splendours of love and the trials of loss. Within its pages is contained the kind of wisdom that seems to illuminate the very core of what it is to be human.