Shelf Life
Livia Franchini

Book cover image

Narrated By: Sam Woolf, Daisy Badger, Eleanor Yates, Seroca Davis, Holly Taylor

Duration: 7 hours and 32 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.
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'Shelf Life is whip-smart, slyly heartbreaking, and I felt the truth of it in my bones. Franchini dissects ideas of love, dating and identity in a way that feels both ruthless and humane. I loved it.'
Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

Launching an intelligent, perceptive new voice in fiction, Shelf Life is the exquisite, heart-wrenching story of a woman rebuilding herself on her own terms.

Ruth is thirty years old. She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week.

And so she uses that list to tell her story. Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags, Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years. Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar – who she is when she stands alone.

Genre

Modern and contemporary fiction, Contemporary lifestyle fiction, Narrative theme: Interior life, Narrative theme: Love and relationships, Narrative theme: Death, grief, loss

Listen to a sample

This is a beautiful novel. The scene with the mother and the chicken is one of the most rigorous, affecting, strange scenes I have read in a while and it's still haunting me. It was funny, and sad, and I devoured it. It reminded me of Convenience Store Woman. I absolutely loved it.

Susannah Dickey, author of 'Tennis Lessons'

Shelf Life feels like a Bridget Jones for cynical souls. Franchini captures perfectly the mundane devastation of heartbreak and the utter impossibility of knowing and being known. Sweet, funny, odd and achingly perceptive, this seemingly small tale asks some terrifyingly big questions about love, loss, identity and existence. I couldn’t put it down.

Natasha Bell, author of 'His Perfect Wife'

Shelf Life is whip-smart, slyly heartbreaking, and I felt the truth of it in my bones. Franchini dissects ideas of love, dating and identity in a way that feels both ruthless and humane. I loved it.

Sophie Mackintosh, author of 'The Water Cure'

Shelf Life is so intimate. It's like riding the bus home with a friend as she confides her secret hopes and fears. Each raw emotion is carefully delivered. Franchini has created a protagonist who feels achingly real. I wanted to cancel all my plans and just read this book.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of 'Harmless Like You'

Livia Franchini has delivered an impressive, Sally Rooney-esque debut novel.