The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

the things we learn when we're dead

Title: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

Author: Charlie Laidlaw

Published on: 26th January 2017

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love meets with an accident. She wakes up in what seems to be a hospital. She seems to have no pain whatsoever and she checks herself in the mirror, hoping to see some bruises but sees none. An old man with a long beard and wearing strings of beads on his neck enters her room. He apologizes and says he will meet her later. Irene, a woman who looks like Kate Winslet is assigned to look after Lorna.

Soon later, Lorna learns that she’s aboard a spaceship called HVN or heaven, a spaceship that entered a black hole and lost it’s engine. Stranded on space for thousands of years now, the members aboard the HVN are immortal. Lorna was chosen to spend her ‘afterlife’ in HVN by the ship’s captain, God. With the exception of God, the rest of the crew look like Hollywood stars. Lorna is confused. Is she really dead? Is this heaven? And is God for real? As she spends some time on HVN, she receives the answers she seeks.


This is the second Charles Laidlaw book that I read. Having read his latest book, The Space Between Time, I was very much looking forward to read The Things We Learn When We’re Dead.

The story starts with Lorna being disappointed about the latest bombings. She’s now almost a Lawyer and her would-be boss has called her home for a party. Irrespective of the bombings, the party will go on. Lorna is on medications and her doctor’s advised her not to drink but Lorna gulps glasses of wine until she starts feeling sick. She takes a taxi home and is about to cross the road when she’s hit by the car. The last thing she remembers before being unconscious is that the car driver puts his jacket below her head.

Lorna wakes up in a strange room. With a nurse who looks like young Sean Connery and Irene who looks like Kate Winslet, Lorna is confused if she’s alive or dead. What is supposed to be ‘regeneration’ takes Lorna back to her past. She remembers the times she spent with her parents and her brother, Tom. Meeting Suzie, her best friend for the first time, her first love Austin, her vacation in Greece with Suzie and many more. Each memory impacts Lorna in some way.

As time passes by and regeneration is in full swing, Lorna finds the memories painful than the previous ones. She seeks answers but God, the captain of the spaceship she’s in, isn’t ready to reveal them to her. Slowly, Lorna realizes that the choices we make, no matter how small or big, affect our lives in ways we could have never imagined.

The beginning of the story was very interesting. The mix of good and bad memories of Lorna’s past was interesting. But as the story proceeds, Lorna’s confusion and her seeking answers take precedence. The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a thought-provoking story. It makes the reader reflect on the decisions they made in the past. Part Sci-fi, part Fiction and part philosophy, this book is an entertaining yet touching read. Charles Laidlaw is a brilliant author. I love his writing and storytelling style. After reading his The Space Between Time, Charlie is in my ‘favorite authors’ list. He includes humor as well as life-lessons/philosophy/thought-provoking concepts in a fictional story and that is what I like about his books.

The only thing I thought could be different in the story was the ending. There’s nothing wrong in the ending but since there were more details on Lorna’s past, I wish there was some more explanation on how Lorna would move ahead with the choice she made in life.

If you have missed reading my review of The Space Between Time, you can read it here.

Many thanks to Charlie for the book. 🙂

11 thoughts on “The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

  1. Excellent review. 🙂 I have been seeing this book at many review sites. I was reluctant to pick it up; what if I don’t like it? But your review has me convinced otherwise. Now, I need to check out this book. Btw, your blog looks fantastic!! ❤ You changed it from the previous "black" theme, right?

    1. Thanks, Deb 😀 I am so glad that my review’s convinced you to pick this book. Charlie introduces philosophy into each of his books and sometimes when you are reading through a scene, you feel like – oh my, this is totally relatable. 😀 The Space Between Time (the other book by the same author) is excellent.
      Thanks again 🙂 I too like this theme, better than the black one. Had to dig through borewells and oceans for this theme 😉😂

    1. 😀😀 it’s in Rekha’s words, not taken from Goodreads so it has to be interesting, isn’t it? 😂😂😂😂 (Is there anything like too much of self praise? 😉😂)

    1. Thank you😁 Yes, the story was good so I guess the unexpected ending didn’t spoil the fun. 🙂

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