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In the late 1970s, I read a book about a man who is allowed to relive his life over and over.

It starts with him and his (female) cousin in his parent's apartment in New York - he is perhaps 14, but he has the memories of his future life. I think that he dies at 40 or so, and comes back to his 14-year-old self. This cycle repeats a number of times. The process is controlled and overseen by alien beings.

I think that the book was published in the Gollancz SF series, although I may be wrong about that. Any chance this rings bells with someone?

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Replay by Ken Grimwood, published in 1986.

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At forty-three Jeff Winston is tired of his low-paid, unrewarding job, tired of the long silences at the breakfast table with his wife, saddened by the thought of no children to comfort his old age. But he hopes for better things, for happiness, maybe tomorrow …

But a sudden, fatal heart attack puts paid to that. Until Jeff wakes up in his eighteen-year-old body, all his memories of the next twenty-five years intact. If he applies those memories, he can be rich in this new chance at life and can become one of the most powerful men in America.

Until he dies at forty-three and wakes up in his eighteen-year-old body again … and again in a continuous twenty-five year cycle each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, make a fortune – or remedy past mistakes.

A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: “What if you could live your life over again?”

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  • Thanks for the speedy reply - I've started to read Replay, and it's entertaining, but I'm sure it's not the book I was looking for. My book is definitely pre 1980, although the theme and story line seem very similar to "Replay". Anyway, I shall enjoy reading replay, so thanks for that.
    – barry
    Feb 8 at 2:27
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    You might also like The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, a good book with a similar theme. Offered as a recommendation, not an answer. It certainly isn't the one you remember, but you might enjoy it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_Fifteen_Lives_of_Harry_August
    – Pete
    Feb 8 at 3:50
  • Thanks Pete, I'll give that a try too. I've been reading Replay, as suggested by @LogicDictates, and it is very close to the book I remember, but definitely not the same. Now I wonder if Replay is based on an earlier effort by the same author, a short story or novella - if not, then there would seem to be a great deal of "borrowing".
    – barry
    Feb 8 at 13:04
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    That was my first thought, but no aliens in Replay.
    – Moriarty
    Feb 8 at 23:11
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    @Moriarty - The protagonist does speculate that aliens might be responsible for his predicament at one point: "At one time or another," he said, "I've imagined just about every possible explanation, no matter how bizarre, for what's been happening to me—to us. Time warps, black holes, God gone berserk ... I mentioned the people who think Mount Shasta is populated by aliens; well, I once had myself convinced this was all some sort of experiment being conducted by an extraterrestrial race." Feb 9 at 7:20

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