Title: The Three Deaths of Lara Smith
Author: Georgina Josephine
“My name is Lara Smith. I live outside London with my parents.
I put socks on before anything else, always odd instead of pairs.
I’m not a fan of hot drinks, especially coffee.
I’m secretly blonde but dye my hair brown.
I was 23 when I died.
Technically I was 24. It was my birthday.”
There have been a few books published recently which have the title “The X deaths of [insert protagonists’ name]” and I’ve been intrigued by all of them because I love it when authors play with the idea of death and an afterlife, or how someone could die repeatedly. The Three Deaths of Lara Smith is a novel that does exactly that – it portrays a possibility of an afterlife, and not just that, but the idea that when we die, we can choose to live again if we want. Lara Smith is 24 when she is hit by a black cab and dies. She decides however to live her life again, hoping that she will make different decisions and live a more fulfilled life, however, second time round, she still meets an untimely demise – this time even more gruesome than the first – so will Lara choose to live again and hope that it’ll be third time lucky? Or is she destined to forever find herself in a perpetual state of regret, always repeating her mistakes from before?
Lara was such a likeable protagonist and this made the book so easy to read. Having said that, there was an oxymoronic feel about this narrative; on the one hand, it was very light-hearted and colloquial, but on the other, Lara dies multiple times and there are very ominous characters and events in the book so I wasn’t sure what feeling/tone the author was trying to achieve – if one at all. This isn’t a criticism though, more just a feeling I had while reading.
Most of the book’s characters were interesting to read, but seeing Lara’s relationship with Rufus was uncomfortable because she didn’t deserve how he behaved towards her. As I was reading, I wanted her to realise how manipulative he was being, but it also made me realise, that for people in that situation in real life, it’s hard to see the truth. I also really liked George as a character, and Lara and Hugo together – their relationship made me hope that Lara would always find her way back to him after she died.
There were definitely a lot of cheesy/cliché moments in the novel – some which I appreciated, and some which I definitely did not. In particular, I thought that the fact Lara and Katie had a childhood crush on a pop-star, who then happened to be Lara’s co-star in the pantomime was way too much of a coincidence for me. That, coupled with some questionably worded pieces of dialogue made the book, for me, feel not quite as sophisticated as I would have liked it to be.
Also something else which irked me was that Lara’s mum felt like such an unnecessary character – I feel like I would have preferred her to not have lived with her parents, because they always just felt like spare parts, and it would have been interesting to see how Lara would have organised/decorated her own space – amplifying her quirky/likeable personality.
I enjoyed being in Lara Smith’s world, and I loved how likeable the characters were – Lara, George, Hugo, and Katie all felt like people I would happily be friends with. I don’t think the writing was the most sophisticated, but it felt friendly and so had a warm and familiar feeling about it which made the overall effect of the novel nice. I strongly believe that Josephine’s writing will become more sophisticated with practise, but with storylines like this, I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
Thank you to the author, Georgina Josephine, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.