Life After Life is an unusual piece of historical fiction set in England.
I’m very late getting to this book by international best selling Kate Atkinson, which was the winner of the 2013 Costa award, but I’m glad that I finally made it. Actually this book has been on my bookshelf for ages; I don’t even recall where it came from.
Very simply, it is about the ‘what if you could go back and change your life’ question that most people have thought about at some point in their own lives. Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night in 1910; sadly she dies that night―or does she? There follows multiple lives for Ursula, that dip back and forth between rebirth and death; all are parallel worlds that would have come to fruition had certain different decisions been made. There is a particular focus on the World War Two period, portraying it from both sides.
Did I understand it all? No I didn’t, in fact it took me a good while to understand the format of the book and why we kept reading a different story about Ursula. I even got a little lost by the ending, but I can see that this would make an excellent book to discuss at a book group.
Did I like it? Yes, for the most part. I do like books that can portray the WW2 era without making me feel as if I’m in a history lesson. Overall, a good piece of fiction with an unusual twist on a linear format.
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During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.