Publisher: Doubleday (14 Mar 2013)
What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
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.
11 February 1910 is a date we re-visit many times in Life after Life. This is when Ursula was born. Each time, one small change makes the difference between Ursula’s life continuing … or not. As Ursula gets older, she becomes more and more aware of these other lives and a feeling of dread settles in her very being each time she ‘knows’ she has to do something differently to evade the falling of the snow and the blackness.
Encompassing WWI and WWII, Ursula and her family are the backbone of the different ‘threads’ and as she gets older, Ursula’s life and relationships outside of the family. Her eccentric aunt Izzie is a wonderful character and is important in quite a few threads.
We experience many different scenarios alongside Ursula, both positive and negative. Sometimes the time continues not far from the time we left, sometimes we jump ahead. This isn’t as confusing as it sounds as it does have structure! I must admit I was trying to think ahead, wondering how the story would tie-up, to have a final conclusion. I won’t give any spoilers but it’s exactly how I thought it might be.
You may have reflected on your life at some point and wondered how differently your life might have been if you had made a different decision, acted differently. You might have thought ‘if only that hadn’t happened’ because it changed the future of everything. This is laid out bare in Life after Life… such a different read which is engrossing and thought-provoking!
I have no hesitation in recommending you add this to your reading list.