Review: Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Life After Life Kate Atkinson cover
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, she finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past.

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. She is the author of a collection of short stories. Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster. Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.

This book has been getting a lot of attention. It has even been shortlisted for the Woman's Prize for fiction in 2013. Though I agree with most of the praise for this book I did struggle reading the story.
The book starts with Ursula being born for the first time and not surviving. The second chapter is Ursula being born and surviving. After this the book develops her life further and further. Starting over when she dies, sometimes with birth, sometimes at a different but significant part in her life. The story gets a grip on you from the beginning and you really want to continue reading and every new life you hope this is the right one, except for those that are not going that well. I was going trough the whole turmoil of every new life. It is easy to get invested in the story. Kate Atkinson sure is a great master in setting atmospheres and making a story easy to connect. And this was the whole problem with the book.
I am a sensitive reader. When invested in a story and with people I need the story to develop and continue but this book was starting over and over again. Though some of the variables stay the same others do not. This meant that every new life you have to get used to different people or the same in a different situation. I noticed I had some trouble getting attached to the story at some point because I was not sure how long I could be in this life and I did not want to be to attached to start all over again. When I caught myself reading like that I got a bit angry with myself for not giving the book he attention and emotion it deserved. Still this book deserves 4 out of 5 stars because it is brilliantly written, it is emotional and it makes you think about choices you make in life.

“Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn’t even begin to solve.”
Life After Life
Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 477
Format: paperback
ISBN-10: 0385618689
ISBN-13: 9780385618687
Doubleday: various
Life After Life
4 star review

Previous
Next Post »

4 reacties

Write reacties
leeswammes
AUTHOR
26 July, 2013 delete

I agree, I also struggled with the changing stories. I like to commit to a story and not find that it stops and then a new story begins. A new story that is often quite similar to the previous one (and therefore, sometimes confusing - what happened in what life?).

I didn't finish the book and I think part of the reason is that I am not a keen short story reader, and in a way, this is a book full of short(ish) stories.

Reply
avatar
26 July, 2013 delete

I really enjoyed this book. Something about it really grabbed me :)

Reply
avatar
Trish Hannon
AUTHOR
26 July, 2013 delete

Really interesting review! I love the idea of the alternate lives so it really appeals to me. I can understand how the story being retold over and over and differing each time broke your connection a bit though. I'll have to check this one out :)

BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

Reply
avatar
29 July, 2013 delete

I'm so glad that you read and enjoyed it. I have it on my TBR list, because I'm really curious about it.

Reply
avatar