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Julian Barnes lost his wife, literary agent Pat Kavanagh, in 2008, but it took him nearly five years to piece together this book about her. It was not that her death struck him silent; indeed, in his journals, he wrote hundreds of thousands of words about her; but Levels of Life is something different, an evocative tribute that somehow retains her privacy. (Indeed, her name is mentioned nowhere in this memoir.) As always, the Man Booker Award winner moves in unanticipated ways, circling in this instance around, of all things, ballooning and photography, to disclose his story of grieve and gifts received. Editor's recommendation.