Member Reviews

This will be made into a film, it is way too good of a story and so cinematic.

Therefore here is my dream cast.
Fred- Robert DeNiro
Dawn- Blythe Danner
Hannah- Amy Adams
Albert- Dustin Hoffman
Val- Sofia Loren

This is one of my top ten books of the year. For fans of A Man called Ove and Remarkably Bright Creatures- in a word, this is HEARTWARMING.

Our hero grows a heart of gold. About Schmidt, but make it Australian.

A case of mistaken identity, Frederick Fife becomes Bernard and lives his life, despite his protestations. You’re gonna love this one, chat. If you roll your eyes at cheesiness, stay away.
Thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow books for the ARC. Book will be released September 10, 2024.

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In this debut contemporary fiction novel, we briefly meet Bernard, then Fredrick Fife who through a bizarre set of circumstances ends up masquerading as 83 year old nursing home resident Bernard, and a whole host of charming side characters. Before Fredrick becomes Bernard, he has spent all his money on his late, beloved wife's medical treatment, and is about to become homeless through no real fault of his own. You need to suspend reality a bit to go along with the premise of this novel, but once I did that, I fell in love with Fredrick and many of the people he befriends.

This is a novel that reminds you of the invisibleness of the elderly, but how far just a little bit of kindness can go. It is a story that involves forgiveness and addiction and is both heartbreaking and funny, I always enjoy a found family story, and we have this here, as Fredrick touches many lives with his kindness. If you are looking for an ultimately uplifting story, I definitely recommend the Australian debut author a try.

Thanks to net galley and William Morrow books for an e galley in return for an unbiased review.

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I cried no less than 5 times reading this book. It’s sad, heartbreaking but also so incredibly warm and loving. “Grief is love with no place to go.”

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This was an interesting read that will resonate with people.
Our character essentially starts a new life and through this he really finds himself.
I enjoyed this one and I think others will too.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC.

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At the age of 82, Frederic Fife finds himself basically homeless. He’s lost the ‘home’ he and his recently deceased wife had lived in, courtesy of the landlord who evicted him. He isn’t sure what he will do now, without anyone to turn to. As he’s walking with no real direction, he ends up near a group of people nearby, all residents of a senior care center. He sees a man in a wheelchair, slumped over a bit, and proceeds to try to get him back among the other residents, but then there’s a mishap, and Frederic Fife finds himself in somewhat of a pickle.

The thing is, Frederic Fife looks almost exactly like the man who was, for a time, in the wheelchair, and all of the staff and residents believe that Frederic Fife is the man who was in the wheelchair, and do not understand even when he tells them otherwise.

This goes back and forth over time, looking back into earlier years, the regrets, the mistakes made, the love, the losses, and the pain of finding yourself all alone in this world, and no one believing in you.

There’s a lot of charm in this story, but there are moments of sadness, as well. After all, it does take place in a senior care center. But even then the feelings and memories are more bittersweet than sad.

This also shares the division that occurs in some families, as well as heartbreaking loss, but is also balanced by the kindness of some of the residents as well as the staff.

If you’ve read and enjoyed / loved Rachel Joyce’s books, you’ll enjoy this one, as well.


Pub Date: 10 Sep 2024


Many thanks for the ARC provided by William Morrow

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This was such a cool book! I loved it so much. It was so thought provoking and I highly recommend it to fiction readers.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book "The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife" and all opinions expressed are my own. Heartwarming story. You really have to find out what Fred/Bernard gets into. Very entertaining.

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"The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife" is a heartwarming and life-affirming debut about an elderly man. His mistaken identity gives him a final chance to experience family.

Frederick Fife, 82, is kind-hearted but lonely. He stands on the brink of homelessness. His luck changes when he is mistaken for Bernard Greer. He is admitted to the Wattle River Nursing Home. There he finds shelter, food and a sense of belonging. As Fred lives Bernard's life, he uncovers the man's past. He learns how to mend a broken life.

I loved this book! The concept, story and characters were delightful. They made me laugh and cry. It was so enjoyable. I savored every moment. This is one of the best reads I've had in a long time. Without giving too much away, the plot is full of engaging twists. These keep you hooked from start to finish. I will definitely follow this author. I never expected a book set in a nursing home to be so captivating. Highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow.

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This is my favorite read of 2024 so far, and I have read a LOT of books! This novel has everything I look for in an engrossing read- a unique premise, interesting and believable characters, plus a storyline that keeps me turning the pages. I was so tuned in to Fred's character that I HAD to know if he could make it out of his dilemma, and if so- how. The author maneuvered this brilliantly (and I'm not saying anything more!)

The writing is spot-on; there are many, many laughable moments, and also so many touching moments that made my heart smile.

It's rare to find a well-written, intriguing book about senior citizens, and I have to say--- I will remember this one always and will share it with our KaleidoSoul book group.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and publisher, for an advanced reading copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife is a story about mistaken identity and found family. I really enjoyed it. It was a bit slow going at first but came into its own quickly. The characters are well written especially Fred as Bernard and the guy he befriends in the nursing home. That one nurse who had a drinking problem and was abusive to the residents was horrible, I think we were meant to feel sorry for her but I absolutely did not, what an awful person. The plot, while unbelievable, was neat. I loved the relationship between the daughter and Fred. This is a great story that will make you smile at the end.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
What a heartwarming book! I usually don't go for books that are unrealistic but I felt something about the synopsis was telling me this would be a good book. And it was so charming! Fred really is such a lovable character and definitely has best intentions for borrowing Bernard's life.

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I HOPE this book turns into a movie. I just LOVED this book. I cannot believe that a book about a nursing home would have this effect. This was such a great book I give it five stars. Entertainment 100%. Just when I think I have it all figured out something new popped up. I highly recommend this read for pure entertainment.netgalley gifted this book to me and all opinions are mine and if you read it may also be yours! I will follow this author after this!

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After reading the synopsis for this (plus former listening to - and loving to the point of buying - audiobooks of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (❤️Jim Broadbent) and Remarkably Bright Creatures (❤️Marcel)), I knew that I wanted to read this.

When I first started this, I felt like maybe I had made a terrible mistake in requesting this - I was looking for cozy and heartwarming - and this brought up the real global problem of homelessness, an accidental burial at sea, as well as an ill child. So, I was wary.

Needlessly, as it turned out, (and okay, I did really have to work to engage my suspension of disbelief in parts), but I very much enjoyed this; I smiled, I got teary, and I adored Frederick.



Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for the DRC

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The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife is a lovely heartwarming story about an 82 year old gentleman who gets a second chance in life to have a family. Fred is 82 years old, widowed with no family or friends and about to be turned out of his apartment because he can’t pay the rent. Then through a strange turn of events and a case of mistaken identity Fred “borrows” the life of Bernard, a man the same age, and an uncanny physical resemblance who has passed away.
This story is so well done and moves along at a good pace. It reflects on our growing senior population and what many of them face such as loneliness, financial instability, loss of friends and loved ones, dementia, and how to care for these older adults as they enter the later stages of their life. Amidst these tough and sometimes sad topics we meet Fred. He is remarkable! He has a zest for life even though he has experienced great loss and is full of kindness and compassion and humor that he spreads to those around him. As Fred navigates the Wattle River Nursing Home we are introduced to some endearing residents and staff, and a few that especially need some help. Fred is up to the task and looks for ways to make the lives of those around him better. In doing so he enriches his own life and has the opportunity to find community and a new family at a time in life when he least expected it!
I just loved this debut novel by author Anna Johnson! Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the ARC. This is my honest review.

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“Grief’s blunt force could still wind him on bad days.” Frederick Fife’s wife, Dawn, had passed away ten years ago. She was his home, the love of his life. His circle of friends were gone as well. He was penniless and about to be homeless. Walking to the bank of the Wattle River, he noticed a man in a wheelchair feeding the seagulls. A bizarre accident occurred. “Dizzy, queasy…searched for words to protest but found none…the wheelchair lift raised [Fred] into the van. “Did they honestly think he was that poor bloke?”

Fred’s protests fell on deaf ears as he tried to convince staff from the Wattle River Nursing Home that he was not the wheelchair’s occupant. “For a moment, he forgot about his predicament and felt nothing but gratitude…[the cuppa and cookies offered] the flavors coated a delicious memory-they had been his dear Dawn’s favorite…he visited her in his mind…the memory wrapped itself like a warm blanket around his broken heart.”

“Where on earth was he? And why was he in a wheelchair?...Then, like a fast-acting laxative, it all came flooding back…the river…the seagulls…the body…the name.” Bernard Greer, his look-alike, was a grumpy old fart who resided at the nursing home. Fred tried again, “I don’t belong here…I’m Fred”. A caregiver returned with a DVD- The Fred Astaire Collection. “Fred deferred the decision to his tummy…he savored the…long forgotten sensation of being truly full.”

“Would you mind terribly, old boy, if I borrowed the rest of your life? I promise I’ll take excellent care of it.” Fred now had to learn to be Bernard Greer. This included pants wetting, name forgetting, and no fish and chips [food allergy].

The old Bernard had a personality reboot. Once a crusty codger, he now had a heart of gold. His humor, kindness and helping hand were witnessed by both residents and staff. He sprinkled pixy dust, snuck out and visited the mall incognito and orchestrated a magnificent celebration. His quest to learn more about Bernard opened a window of opportunity for a new passenger.

“The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife” by debut author Anna Johnston is an emotionally drawn, heartfelt novel full of love, longing, regret and redemption. The powerful ending brought this reader to tears!

Thank you William Morrow and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was a good one! It was incredibly heartwarming while diving into some heavier topics. The wisdom throughout was beautiful. I really enjoyed it.

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DNFed early on. I didn’t like how the woman who was sexually harassing Frederick was played for laughs. That seemed off.

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Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for an ARC of The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife.

Sometimes, in between all of the horror and thriller books I read, I need a book that warms up my cold, dead heart 😅 and this one definitely fit the ticket. A sweet, silly story that reminds you of the truly important things in life. I laughed, I teared up, and I rooted for Fred to get his happy ending. I see this being 2024's "Remarkably Bright Creatures" and a big hit!

5 super cute stars

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"The Borrowed Life of Frederick Fife" tells the heartwarming tale of Fred, an elderly man mistaken for another named Bernard and taken to Bernard's nursing home. Here, Fred finds solace, learns about Bernard's past, and forms deep connections with the residents and staff. Through his journey, Fred discovers the importance of family, forgiveness, and redemption, finding a sense of belonging in his twilight years.

While the ending is uplifting, the book delves into profound sadness and tackles heavy topics (be sure to check the trigger warnings). Although some dialogue may feel forced, the story is well-paced and emotionally-driven. Overall, it's a solid choice for those who appreciate themes of found family, identity, and love and sacrifice, particularly if you enjoy a slower-paced read with a heartfelt message.

Thank you William Morrow and NetGalley for the advanced copy.

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