Past Life is an intriguing journey into family, history and the common bonds that hold together, regardless if how disparate the various members of the group become: life is lived, past becomes present, blending into a mosaic that is ultimately reflective of the time old saying, the sins of the fathers are passed onto the children.
Anna is met as a young girl beginning high school at a time when she begins to realize the restrictive life she has led with her obsessive mother, Sophia, is a little strange; that there is obviously more to living this new life, in a new country, than she ever imagined.
The words are crafted to perfection as William Lane begins to paint the picture that will lead to tragedy, understanding with a history that seeps into the time and horror of the second world war, a place that surprisingly Anna has no recollection of, even though she knows she came from another place to live in this new, very different country.
The supreme irony laced throughout the story is that over time, Anna grows into a talented photographer, obsessed with capturing the essence that is time through an orchard with which she will later discover she has deep ties. As she matures into a woman who has made her own way through life since Sophia died, within her personal life she is inadvertently repeating the patterns of her parents; a father who was an acclaimed novelist, a mother who was, during the war years a resistance leader, an adoptive mother who had secrets to hide, lost in a world no longer in existence.
Almost mesmeric the work unfolds slowly, the characters both young and old developing clear personalities, their history laid out for all to see, to share; their growing up, the teen years, the facing of risk and challenge, the slow discovery of who, why and the reflection of what, presents an interesting cameo of ‘family’. The work also shines a light on the emotional and destructive damage caused by war that lasts long past the wars end.
Presenting lesser known aspects of the German occupation of Europe, the serious displacement of children who became a band of children living wild in the forests, fossicking and begging for food, lives forever altered by chance or circumstance, people changed irrevocably and even though time moves on, countries change and other influences come in to play, sometimes within even the most fragmented of family structures, very little really changes.
Past Life is a beautiful, delicate and haunting work filled with characters to whom we can all relate.