Renowned writer of thrillers, the British Clare Mackintosh momentarily turned to another literary genre for her new novel, The choice to relive. She tells, in a romanticized way, a very hard story inspired by a difficult period in her life: the moment when she and her husband were faced with a difficult choice in the face of their son’s illness. This decision marked their lives.
In the novel, Clare Mackintosh recounts this experience through Max and Pip, who form a strong couple. Very close-knit, in love, in solidarity. However, when faced with the heaviest and most important decision of their life, they fail to come to an agreement.
The consequences of this impossible choice threaten to devastate their relationship. For Max and Pip, nothing will ever be the same again.
This novel is inspired by a lived, sad and traumatic fact. In 2006, Clare Mackintosh and her husband were forced to make a difficult decision: keep their critically ill son alive or unplug his life support and let him die.
In her novel, Clare Mackintosh explores with lucidity and emotion the possibilities linked to this decision. She describes the consequences, but also speaks of hope since she remembers that we have the choice to relive after an ordeal.
Encouraged by her editor, Clare Mackintosh chose this theme for her fourth novel, even though she had made herself known through her psychological thrillers.
In the process of writing, she realized that she couldn’t have written it a few years ago. “The title, in English, is After The End (After the end, Editor’s note). It’s not about the tragedy, it’s about how we deal with it and what happens afterwards, ”she says.
She had to come a long way before she was ready to write. “I had to do my own thing, I had to know that, yes, we can come to be happy again, and that it is possible to have the choice to relive, to have that second chance.”
How did she find the strength to face the events of the past and their baggage of intense emotions? “Writing my memoirs would have been difficult. But The choice to relive is not my story. I drew on several elements of my own experience, and I can tell you that it was disturbing, difficult to write, but it is a work of fiction. By writing the story from Max and Pip’s perspective, I was able to get some distance. But I still have trouble re-reading certain scenes. ”
It was cathartic, she thinks. “I was a police officer before I became a writer. We learn to compartmentalize our life, to close ourselves off from our emotions, because we are facing horrible things. You have to close down, otherwise you will go crazy. This way of doing things made it so that I was able to compartmentalize my life. I was able to shut myself off from my own emotions. ”
This habit hampered her in the grieving process. “When we have to deal with grief, we have to let our emotions out. In writing The choice to relive, I had to tap into those emotions and let them go, observe them, to be able to authentically write down what it means to have a seriously ill son. It was painful, but it helped me heal. ”
- Clare Mackintosh lives in England.
- She is the author of To let you go (Polar prize at the International Cognac Festival), published in 2015 and sold over two million copies.
- His novels have been translated into 35 languages.