“There are some memoirs that reach right out and capture us, even if we have never heard of the author, even if the story seems ordinary, like the sort of thing we have experienced, or could imagine experiencing. Such is the case with Katharine Smyth’s extraordinary debut, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf… This is a transcendent book, not a simple meditation on one woman’s loss, but a reflection on all of our losses, on loss itself, on how to remember and commemorate our dead.” — Charlotte Gordon, The Washington Post

“[Smyth’s] prose is so fluid and clear throughout that it’s not surprising to observe her view of her family, its cracks and fissures, sharpen into unsparing focus.… Her exploration of grown-up love, the kind that accounts for who the loved one actually is, not who you want him or her to be, gains power and grace as her story unfolds. I suspect her book could itself become solace for people navigating their way through the complexities of grief for their fallen idols. And they will be lucky to have it.” — Radhika Jones, The New York Times Book Review

“Katharine Smyth pulls off a tricky double homage in her beautifully written first book, a deft blend of memoir, biography, and literary criticism that’s a gift to readers drawn to big questions about time, memory, mortality, love and grief… Her question—and this impressive memoir—beautifully echo my favorite passage from To the Lighthouse: ‘What is the meaning of life? That was all—a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.’ Yes, here is one.” — Heller McAlpin, The Wall Street Journal

Heller McAlpin’s review of  All the Lives We Ever Lived  in  The   Wall Street Journal

Heller McAlpin’s review of All the Lives We Ever Lived in The Wall Street Journal

“Just as Woolf unspooled the backstories and futures of her characters with deft, time-bending maneuvers, Smyth elliptically reveals the layers of her father’s character, simulating the ups and downs that the author herself must have felt in loving this extraordinary man and watching him self-destruct. It’s an experiment in 21st-century introspection that feels rooted in a modernist tradition and bracingly fresh.” Vogue

“This gorgeous, moving book gracefully moves between memoir and literary criticism… Smyth’s writing possesses a unique ability to wend its way into your head, traveling into all the darkest corners of your mind, triggering thoughts on love and loss and family and memory you hadn’t known were lurking; it’s a profound experience, reading this book—one not to be missed.” Nylon

“This searching memoir pays homage to To the Lighthouse, while recounting the author’s fraught relationship with her beloved father, a vibrant figure afflicted with alcoholism and cancer. Smyth’s reflections on loss weave in and out of literary criticism, and gesture toward questions about how art gives meaning to life, and vice versa… Smyth’s writing is evocative and incisive.” The New Yorker

“A conceptually ambitious and assured debut, successfully bridging memoir and literary criticism…. A work of incisive observation and analysis, exquisite writing, and an attempt to determine if there is ‘any revelation that could lessen loss, that could help to make the fact of death okay.’” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[Smyth] expertly dissects the finest gradations of emotion in any given scene… All the Lives We Ever Lived is a powerful book, driven by the engine of Smyth’s controlled, rich description. It’s an astonishingly clear-eyed portrait of a person through myriad lenses, a kind of prismatic attempt to capture a life.” The Boston Globe

Hillary Kelly’s review of  All the Lives We Ever Lived  in  Vulture

Hillary Kelly’s review of All the Lives We Ever Lived in Vulture

“Let’s pause to recognize how remarkable it is that a young writer can convincingly buddy up with one of the greats in her first book without it coming off as a juvenile fanzine… Smyth’s beautiful debut is more tightly strung together than you’d imagine a memoir-cum-literary-requiem could be. It is innovative, like Woolf, in its power of association and its ability to transform the intangible nature of grief into a warm, graspable, fleshy mass.” Vulture

Bethanne Patrick’s review of  All the Lives We Ever Lived  in  Time

Bethanne Patrick’s review of All the Lives We Ever Lived in Time

“Blending analysis of a deeply literary novel with a personal story is a high-wire act for many reasons, not least being how few readers will have read Woolf themselves. But Smyth… is up to the challenge, gently entwining observations from Woolf’s classic with her own layered experience… In writing her own book, Smyth has discovered a way to appreciate the changing leaves, one that works both as memoir and as an aid to those who mourn.” Time

“All the Lives We Ever Lived is both a reflection on To the Lighthouse and a lingeringly beautiful elegy in its own right…. What [Smyth’s] book does is add to our perception of To the Lighthouse, not through analysis or commentary, but by writing through the novel, assuming and exploring its worldview, and in the process redescribing it to us with an infectious passion and hard-earned wisdom… She writes with a measured, lyrical grace all her own.” The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Smyth moves from the asperities of her own state to a lucid discussion of transience in general and the strange dream of any family—whose central characters abruptly vanish, never to return. This is a beautiful book about the wildness of mortal life, and the tenuous consolations of art.” The Times Literary Supplement

All the Lives We Ever Lived represents Smyth’s attempt to make sense of this legacy: of her relationship with her father and the hole his death left in her life… It is also—and this is what moves it from a lyrically written memoir of grief, families and loss towards something more unusual and special—an attempt to reconsider Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece To the Lighthouse… All the Lives We Ever Lived is both a haunting attempt to come to terms with loss and an honest appraisal of the ways in which a person can become unmoored. Acutely observed and shot through with a furious beauty, it is a book that lingers long after the final page has been turned.” Sarah Hughes, The i

“Her father had seemed 'impossibly wise' to her; seeing him through adult eyes, Smyth lays bare in raw and moving prose the impossibility of reconciling her idealised image with the man before her... Smyth is an elegant and powerful writer, her sentences suffused with attention to detail and rich with self-interrogation… [Her story is] not only an exploration of grief and family, but an effort to understand the complexity of experience and relationships, and to follow Woolf in her ‘ongoing struggle to find truth and meaning in a world where both are infinitely shifting.’” Prospect Magazine

“The memoir is a quiet book; its private tragedies are the consequence of a slow physical and emotional decay at the hands of her father’s disease. Still, Smyth’s prose pulsates with intensity, and its lyrical qualities make it a moving one. Grief and its disconcerting effects take center stage. ‘It’s writers like Woolf, their refusal to give in to popular ideas about bereavement, who have helped me to accept the nature of this misery,’ Smyth writes. With her first book, Smyth is able to give that comfort to a new generation of readers as well.” BookPage

“A daughter coping with her father’s illness and death takes a deep dive into Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse, looking for insight and comfort… Other writers have attempted similarly braided memoirs with mixed success. Katharine Smyth… has more than lived up to her premise, delivering a lyrical and thoughtful examination of character, place and grief.” Providence Journal

“Smyth is an elegant writer and she explores her deep, complicated love for her father in lyrical yet restrained prose… Smyth’s book is a fine example of a fresh approach to literary criticism.” Literary Review

“The affinity between Smyth and her subject is profound even on the sentence level. She writes in Woolfian rhythms. Her sentences cascade and linger over transcendent images; she nests tangential observations into parentheses to hint at the simultaneity of experience.” HuffPost

“In All the Lives We Ever Lived, Katharine Smyth’s powerful memoir about her father’s death, she takes a parallel journey… What sets All the Lives apart from other memoirs about grief or alcoholism (and it has much to say about both topics) is that it is also a book about reading, the ways ‘the one book for every life’ can, in Smyth’s words, ‘reciprocate and even alter [our] experience’… There are many lovely moments when Smyth’s prose soars into poetry.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A stunningly beautiful story of love and death, told through the prism of Virginia Woolf’s life and writing… Smyth takes you inside To the Lighthouse with such a deft hand that you feel you have to read the book again because only now can you truly understand it. And her meditations on grief are nothing short of profound. She is an exquisite writer and this is an exquisite book.” The Woolfer

“Literary criticism has rarely been this pleasurable to read, or as imperative… Just as no one else is likely to undertake a memoir about loss as viewed through the prism of a passion for falconry, no future book on grief and reading fiction ought now to be contemplated. Because All the Lives We Ever Lived has definitively, and beautifully, consumed this particular scheme. I can imagine Woolf giving it her highest praise: it is enough.” The Barnes & Noble Review

All the Lives We Ever Lived  in the January 2019 issue of  Elle

All the Lives We Ever Lived in the January 2019 issue of Elle

“In All the Lives We Ever Lived, Katharine Smyth elegantly weaves together her thoughts on the death of her father and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.” Elle

“If I had a nickel for every book out there that attempts to conjure the magic of a beloved bygone novelist, I’d put them in a sock and beat some publisher about the head with it. Smyth’s part memoir, part critical analysis is an exception to the rule, with a moving portrait of her own father’s death and a heart-filled understanding of the grief that propelled Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Read it to conjure Woolf, yes, but also to understand how the stories we read pervade our intellectual DNA and set down roots.” Vulture

“Katharine Smyth uses Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse to explore her own grief in this inventive memoir about literature and loss… Smyth’s memories of both her parents come to the surface as she learns more about Virginia Woolf and her book, showcasing the capacity fiction has to help make sense of life’s biggest questions.” Time

“Calling all English majors: This is the memoir for you. Katharine Smyth manages to entangle her personal experience of grief with—wait for it—Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Smyth's memoir is an ode to both her father and her favorite writer, whose words brought her comfort and clarity in a time of loss.” Marie Claire

“This is a memoir about how reading a book inflects your life, and how your own life inflects your reading of the novel, and your rereading of the novel… The way the book and the life intersect is really beautifully told in this memoir. Very unusual, very well-done.” – Bill Goldstein, NBC Weekend Today in New York

“All The Lives We Ever Lived is a lyrical memoir about Katharine Smyth's connection to Virginia Woolf's writing, and the power of literature in our darkest times.” Bustle

“Some of our most intimate relationships can be with people we’ve never met, but who have nonetheless inspired us, so much so we feel as if we know them. For first-time author Katharine Smyth, that person was Virginia Woolf…Part memoir, part literary criticism, the book examines Smyth’s own life in parallel—and contrast— to that novel’s themes.” Town & Country

“[All the Lives We Ever Lived] is extraordinarily good… One of the impressive things Smyth achieves is conveying how deeply she loved this man who was evidently, openly flawed… Smyth weaves together the various strands of All The Lives We Ever Lived beautifully, with extremely good judgement…. It is beautifully written, movingly thoughtful, and something I feel sure I will return to.” Stuck in a Book

“This is what makes this book something more than a traditional memoir—it’s a communion for anyone who has been deeply affected by Woolf’s writing… Smyth powerfully captures that revelatory sensation we can sometimes get as readers where we feel so connected to the text of a book… I found this book very moving.” The Lonesome Reader

“Smyth's writing shimmers brightly… These days, when personal grief becomes a public performance on social media, it's heartening to have a book that shows how much better it is to introspect more deeply and allow literature to be both solace and inspiration.” Pop Matters

“61 Books We’re Looking Forward to To Reading in 2019” HuffPost

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