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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Narrated by: Peter Kenny
Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (363 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside.

'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message.' This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

©2014 Claire North (P)2014 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"An astonishing re-invention of the time-travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful" (M. R. Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts)"A thoughtful and considered time-travel novel, shocking twists and, most important of all, a beautiful character. Harry August will break your heart fifteen times" (Jared Shurin, Pornokitsch Blog)
This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it's all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself . . . Beautifully written and structured, the book should be a big hit . . . Fans of SF and fantasy authors China Mieville, Christopher Priest, and Adam Roberts might note a stylistic similarity, especially in the novel's elegant prose. Whoever Claire North turns out to be, he or she has written a remarkable book" (Booklist)
"Gripping" ( Sun)
"A truly extraordinary novel: an impeccable portrait of a friendship tortured by time in which masterful character and fantastic narrative come together to tremendous effect" ( TOR.COM)
"A brave, genre-defying novel, which is mind-blowing in its originality and bold concept . . . Stunning!" ( NOVELICIOUS)
"Part unique and intriguing mystery, part philosophical look at life, memory and time travel this story kept me totally gripped from the opening words to the mind-blowing finale" ( BITE THE BOOK)
" The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is an extraordinary novel, as the publicity has promised" ( The Speculative Scotsman)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Hit by train of awesomeness

I came into this book with little hopes or expectations. And 1 hours into it i was simply in love. The main character is somewhat "blank" as the author puts it (Thru a dialogue with another character) But everything else about this book is simply superb.
The concept is great. Truly great twist on the whole time travel business.
The plot is Okay. Very engaging.
The EXECUTION is like no other. Claire North takes this story and twists it in such a lovely way that the reader cant help but love it.
Also, the wordsmithing is beautiful. Sometimes i would hit the rewind 30 seconds bottom just to go thru certain phrases again, so well crafted they were!

All in all. Just get this book. Its great and now on my list of favorites!

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing story and exceptional narration

So far my favourite listen on Audible. Interesting story and concept, and superb narrator. Would love it to have been twice the length.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story and beautifully read

I was totally drawn to the story, so unusual and intriguing. Can't stop listening. The reader was great also, the gentle voice drew you in.

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Interesting story

Interesting concept, well written and narrated. Starts a little slowly but once the point of the book becomes clear and the protagonist established, couldn't put it down.

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Fascinating and full of action

This book is built on a fascinating concept, that of the Kalachakra, a group of people that re-live the same life over and over again but with the all the memories of their previous lives.

The story is really well paced, with interesting characters, and a narrator that brings the story and characters to life.

Thoroughly enjoyable!

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Awesome.

Lying sick in bed and in need of distraction I stumbled across this book and decided to give it go, thinking I probably wouldn't get too far.

So.....Harry August is born, lives and dies in his 70s from some sort of bone cancer. He is born again in exactly the same circumstance and at the age of three the memory of his previous life comes flooding back in perfect detail. It is more than he can bear and at age six throws himself off a tall building. He is born again and at age three the memory of his previous two lives comes back again. This time he handles it a bit better, lives his life, dies and 'hey presto', all over again. Eventually he learns he is Kalachakra, one destined to live the same life over and over and over without end.

We never learn what the Kalachakra are, even they don't know, but they have their ways and means and do their thing in complete secret as they navigate the world of the 'linear's', what they call us ordinary mortals. As Harry gets to grips with his life he learns that he is not trapped by destiny, rather a student of it. With experience he enables an ever evolving and richer life experience.

On his deathbed for the umpteenth time, he is visited by a six year old girl, a Kalachakra from a later time frame. She tells him that the future is changing and that the world is coming to an end prematurely. He must find out why and stop it. The why, it turns out, is a Kalachakra called Vincent, a wild genius determined to understand what it means to be Kalachakra. Over multiple life times he is building a Quantum Mirror, a device they will allow him ultimate knowledge, but it comes with a cost, the planet and all who inhabit it, past and present.

The battle begins, Harry Vs Vincent. It's a cosmic chess match and Vincent is well ahead in points but Harry is in for the long game.

A rousing and rather gripping work of speculative/fantastical sci-fi, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August surpassed my expectations, and despite my own doubts, it ended up that I couldn't put it down. Feverishly good escapist entertainment for those with a sci-fi bent and highly recommended with it. Also thoroughly well written. Claire North is a pseudonym of prolific British writer Catherine Webb. Looking forward to reading more of her work, there is lots of it.

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Unbeatable narration

What a fantastic tale. Cannot fault this book, it's just perfect. I'm now off to buy other books by this author and narrator!

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Time travellers or multiverse?

A great book. I loved the way the author made simple all of the complicated time paradoxes without actually addressing any time traveller physics. I loved the momentum built up towards the end.

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clever and captivating

fantastic tale , well told and masterfully narrated - characters are believable and brought to life (literally, again and again!) by the narrator. great audiobook.

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Absolute ripper.

A finely crafted and intriguingly complex tale, expertly read. Original and fresh. Wish it hadn't ended...

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  • Michal
  • 11-05-2015

Fascinating and surprisingly fresh

Where does The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The book was my first audiobook ever, and I loved the experience. Peter Kenny was fantastic, with his voice and accents, and all the heart he poured into this. Looking forward to hear more of him.

What other book might you compare The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to and why?

I can't recall books similar to this one. It was something like Groundhog Day meets Edge of Tomorrow, but way more epic and sophisticated. It is deeply rooted in the reality, spanning across decades and intertwined with the most interesting periods and event in the history of the world as we know it, but also giving us a glimpse at the world that could have been but wasn't. Or won't be.

Have you listened to any of Peter Kenny’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't, but I definitely will.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I cringed upon hearing the detailed descriptions of substance abuse and physical harm. It was as if my body was experiencing it by itself. Very well written, believable, and combined with the narration it was really morbidly fascinating.

Any additional comments?

I loved the language of Harry August - quintessentially British, with carefully crafted sentences, grammatically perfect and beautiful while always on point. It really felt the way someone extremely intelligent, and centuries old, would sound like.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mads
  • 19-03-2019

Fantastic book.

One of the best books I have read in a while, that is not a fourteen book saga.

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  • Seth
  • 22-12-2018

The best book I’ve listened to for literally 3 years.

I have had this book saved to download for ages. Thought It was going to be crap. But just couldn’t remove it. The Xmas special come so I got it at 50% off. I would have paid triple. It’s the most real and tangible book of possible reality for what is a fiction book... yet we don’t have the math to explain or understand any different yet as non fiction so who knows. Thank you for being such a visionary. Just beautiful in every single way. 🙌

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  • BeijInga
  • 17-11-2018

Wanted it to last and last

The best book I've listened to this year. Wanted it to last and last. Wanted to know all of Harry August's lives, not only the first fifteen.

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  • Johannes Anderson
  • 13-11-2018

Great book overall

Thank you, very cool.
Sometimes a little slow, but mostly great.
Would recommend for my fellow kids to listen and enjoy this great book.

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  • Jayne M Burdeshaw
  • 01-12-2017

original

quite original concept and story and the narration is superb! hoping for more from this author

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  • Kennedi
  • 15-12-2016

Oh my goodness!!

This was absolutely, positively amazing. The story was intricately plotted; the performance, hands down, one of the best I've ever experienced. Truly did not want it to wnd

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  • Tore Eggen
  • 07-02-2015

Loved every second of this

Grest premise for a story - and superbly read! The idea of the repeating cycle seen in the movie "groundhog day" or "end of days" applied to the life (lives) of Harry August - who always finds himself being born again, in the same place, at the same moment in time. He remembers everything.

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  • S. Kingston
  • 07-07-2014

Déjà vu all over again

A well written book, based on an interesting premise: whenever Harry August dies, he is reborn as himself, back in the original year of his birth, to relive his life. Each time, he can live his life slightly differently, but with each rebirth, history is reset (with the exception of his memories). The book builds nicely throughout, with a couple of interesting plot twists, towards a climactic but thought-provoking ending.

This book reminded me a little of the Time Traveller's Wife, although I found the "time travel" aspect of this plot a lot easier to follow!

14 people found this helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 27-06-2016

A good one!

Harry keeps getting a "do-over". And what to do when you are constantly reborn and into the same time period, and the same life?

My initial thoughts were that it was just a better version of Groundhog Day. Next I thought it was possibly a little bit predictable, ie if you get to see the same period of history over and over, should you meddle or not, what if others meddle, etc...? Therefore, not too many new ideas to hook me, but it was pleasant enough listening.

And then in the second half of the book, it all seemed to come together and took off. Absolutely compelling, cleverly done, and well narrated. The central characters are excellent. I can't say anything else without spoiling it, so I'll leave it to the blurb and other reviewers to give more hints.

The narration is good - occasionally the accents weren't brilliant, but it never distracted from the story. The narrator's voice really suited the main character and the consistency of his nature.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. Very much worth the credit.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 19-12-2015

dont think to hard

Would you listen to The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August again? Why?

never listen to books twice

What did you like best about this story?

narration was good,playing with ideas repeating the story was interesting

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favourite?

his female supporters at the chronos club

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

i think as a film it would be a little confusing, a little like 12 monkeys on acid

Any additional comments?

good story, being a little scientific I wanted to know how the process of repeating time worked but had to content myself with just being part of a good yarn, no real answers at the end. I noticed the lead character said` I am what I am` which was what God said to Moses at the Burning bush!

7 people found this helpful

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  • LM Meiland
  • 09-06-2014

2014, best performance - Kenny, best book - North

What did you like most about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August?

As everyone has said. It was a very interesting concept wonderfully executed. I'm not a fan of science fiction or fantasy and this book is entirely without dragons or convenient inventions to make the plot move forward. There were no logic holes or fudges to let the book down. This all ignores the important bit - it was so well written (and read) that I didn't notice how well written (and read) it was! Truly, an excellent book - I would recommend it to anyone, whatever your favorite genre. It will stay with me for a long time, and my memory is awful, so that's saying something.

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favourite?

Peter Kenny played every character so expertly that when he had to read entire passages in five or six different voices I knew each character distinctly and without any hesitation. This will be the audiobook I will gift to my friends to get them into audio. I haven't heard anything better (I've listened to well over 500 audiobooks).

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely.

Any additional comments?

If there were awards (there probably are) Peter Kenny should get one for this reading. I'm sure Claire North will be receiving many for the book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mel
  • 07-07-2014

Original and compelling

I bought this book because I wanted something a bit different, and it didn't disappoint. It's an interesting concept, which I won't give away in this review, and the way that concept is used to drive the plot is clever and must have taken a lot of planning. Although the ideas are complicated, I found the plot easy to follow and enjoyed the shifts between times and lives. I found the characters compelling, and some of the ethical issues thought provoking. Overall I thought it was very entertaining, well written and voiced. I'll definitely be listening to more of Claire North's work.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Kathie
  • 18-11-2014

Anything but repetitive

I was surprised that another reader found it a bit repetitive as I didn't. The pace and tension escalated perfectly, leaving me exhausted from lack of sleep. It is an extraordinary book and I can't recommend it enough, Having Peter Kenny reading it was a bonus. The book of the year.

10 people found this helpful

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  • mrs c howe
  • 22-04-2016

I loved this story

I really compelling and interesting story. I was very intrigued by the use of time. It was a great listen well performed and beautifully paced

4 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 05-07-2014

Wonderful in every way

Would you consider the audio edition of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to be better than the print version?

Difficult to say. I have a vivid imagination and through that I picture the story's protagonists but in saying that the Narrator painted a different picture in my mind to the one I might have done had I read the book. This is no way is meant to be detrimental to the audio edition. The narrator was excellent, and every character had it's own personality, by age, by gender, by trait. It took us through the 20th century time after time, and each journey painted a different story. I loved it, every second. Buy it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August?

Harry's ongoing relationship with his nemesis

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favourite?

Harry, without doubt.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Losing his wife, his mind and his 3rd life

4 people found this helpful

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  • Asbjørn
  • 25-04-2014

Perfect Audiobook

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would recomend it. The storyline is wonderfully imaginative. The pace carries you along - wanting to engage. The narrator is pitch perfect and adding to the story with his voice-acting.

Who was your favorite character and why?

August - main character - the I of the story

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favourite?

as above

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Reboot

Any additional comments?

This is the best science fiction novel I have come accross for a very long time. Highly recommended!

19 people found this helpful

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  • Alexander Marshall
  • 21-05-2014

I will read this again in my next life

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book got me thinking about everything, it's that rare type of book that both entertains and makes you question what would you do? sit back and enjoy all the benefits of the world today and not bother about the future after we are gone. Or like Harry endure many horrors to make the future a better place

What other book might you compare The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to, and why?

It's like no other that I have read

Which scene did you most enjoy?

All of it

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Made me smile

Any additional comments?

This made me think what would I do if I had the chance to do it all agian

3 people found this helpful