“You can buy a man’s hours off him, you can steal his days from him, or you can rob him of his whole life, but no one can take away from any man so much as a single moment. That’s the way it is.”
It was nearly one year ago when I first read A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler. The ski season was about to kick in, snow was falling outside, and it was an ideal day to stay curled up with a book in my Swiss mountain town.
It was one of the most starkly beautiful books I’ve ever read – and a firm favourite for 2017.
How it fell into my hands also added to its meaning. My boyfriend and I had taken a break from our relationship since the summer, and we’d only just decided to meet up with each other. Over lunch, he passed me a copy of A Whole Life.
He’d read it, I hadn’t, and I was caught between reading it slowly and tearing through it. I tried to balance somewhere between the two and read it on that snowy weekend (it’s not a very long book). I knew why he had given it to me. It was my perfect book.
It’s the story of Andreas Egger, a man who knows every path, contour and secret of his mountains in the Austrian Alps. He grew up with them and is closer to them than to any other being. Without them, he wouldn’t quite be Andreas Egger.
A Whole Life is about a life lived simply, quietly and humbly by the mountains. It’s a story of just one unremarkable existence that is nonetheless extraordinary.
“He couldn’t remember where he had come from, and ultimately he didn’t know where he would go. But he could look back without regret on the time in between, his life, with a full-throated laugh and utter amazement.”
The book design is beautiful – it’s another book with mountains on the cover, like my recent read Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge – and everything about the writing delighted me. Heartbreaking, yes, but perfect. A Whole Life brought me to tears (at least once).
If you want to retreat into a cosy reading nook and set your imagination off into the mountains, get a copy of A Whole Life.
See where the adventure takes you, both in the book and in your own life.
A Whole Life is a book for: finding beauty and meaning in the little things, spending time in nature, experiencing loss, rebuilding a life, and simply living a life.