Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester

IMG_4275“So many people say that everything happens for a reason. I’ve always felt that things happen because the things before them happen, that’s all.”

Lillian is a single woman in her sixties, who is looking back on her life. She was born in the Midwest in the 1930’s, and then went on to live in Europe in the fifties and sixties, before making New York her home in the latter part of 1960 and the seventies. Each place holds memories of old loves, various disappointments, and ultimately lessons learned. In Lillian on Life, Lillian introduces the reader to those individuals that have played a significant part in her life in some way, and relates her thoughts on what was and what the future might be.

“I don’t want that horrible, exhausting confusion of moving away form the old but being unclear about the new. I want to see a design, and I want to know, because in my experience the new has been an extremely mixed bag.”


This is a quick and simple read, broken down into concise chapters, each addressing a different time, place, experience, and topic. A few chapter titles include: On the Food of Love, On Big Decisions, On Getting out of Bed, On Behaving Abroad and in General, and On Leaving in Order to Stay. Lillian is a woman who has not travelled the traditional path for women, especially of the time period she belonged to, therefore it is interesting to read her views on different topics and how they may contradict societal expectations. The novel has no particular storyline, but is rather a collection of Lillian’s memories as told by her, and reads as someone simply telling their life story by recalling various moments. It is a nice read, although there wasn’t anything in particular that really stuck with me. However, if you enjoy a non-linear story and philosophizing about life and love, Lillian on Life is a good option.

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