No Other Life (Magill Book Reviews)
In NO OTHER LIFE, his eighteenth novel, Brian Moore again reveals his penchant for plots which unobtrusively combine thriller elements with more profound moral and religious questions. Set on the imaginary Caribbean island of Ganae, the novel tells of a rural scholarship boy, Jean-Paul Cantave, or Jeannot, as he is called throughout. Rescued from a life of penury and oppression, he is educated for the priesthood and eventually becomes president of Ganae. The story of Jeannot is told by his mentor, a French Canadian missionary, Father Michel.
It is typical of Moore’s economical method that the use of the hero’s nickname serves as an expression both of the intimacy between Father Michel and his former pupil and of Jeannot’s links with the people whose ruler he becomes. The name becomes a constant reminder of the various conflicts which the priest and president must face: between the public man and the private one, between the political activist and the man of peace, and between the man of the people and the just ruler. Jeannot’s negotiation of these conflicts at once makes him a memorable character and the leader of a vulnerable regime.
The similarity of Ganae to Haiti, in language, terrain, and recent political turbulence reinforces the reader’s appreciation of Jeannot’s essentially Christian striving for peace and justice. Moore’s deft exploration of whether Jeannot’s obligations are to man or to God, hinted at in the novel’s...
(The entire section is 337 words.)
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No Other Life (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
In No Other Life, his eighteenth novel, Brian Moore continues his treatment of themes and contexts first introduced in The Color of Blood (1987) and revisited in Lies of Silence (1990). Readers familiar with Moore’s work will not find the themes of these works unfamiliar. Their preoccupation with the substance and adequacy of their protagonists’ inner life, particularly at periods of development or transition, has been a mainstay of this author’s fiction since the beginning of his career. The difference in his later work is the translation of these preoccupations into unfamiliar, international contexts. In both The Color of Blood and No Other Life Moore invents countries for whose characteristics he draws freely on contemporary news stories. The national setting of The Color of Blood was modeled on the Poland of the early 1980’s. A Caribbean island named Ganae, with a distinctive Francophone language and culture and with a close resemblance to Haiti, provides the backdrop for Moore’s concerns in No Other Life. It may be thought that by setting Lies of Silence in his native Northern Ireland Moore was not pursuing the emphases introduced in The Color of Blood. The Belfast of Lies of Silence, however, proved to be as alien as any context the author could invent. The reversal of readers’ expectations in this depiction of Belfast effectively underscored Moore’s lack of...
(The entire section is 1972 words.)