Jera’s Jamboree review : Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

lifeafterlifeHardcover: 496 pages

Publisher: Doubleday  (14 Mar 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0385618670

ISBN-13: 978-0385618670

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.

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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.

Buy it and spread the word

Buy it and spread the word

I would like to thank Alison Barrow from Transworld Books for offering a proof copy via Twitter.

Find out more about Kate Atkinson on her website.  Kate has an official Facebook page.

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4 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree review : Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

  1. Sounds interesting. I may add that to my list. As the heroine’s name is Ursula, I wonder if the author has read Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill, in which a little girl is missing and we read the stories of all her ancestors and the coincidences and quirks of fate that led to her DNA coming together in the first place. A related idea to this one, in that we individuals are lucky we exist at all!

    • It’s not a light read Pat – lots of human nature and our shadow side. I would say yes to adding to your list.

      Ursula Under is on my wishlist 🙂

  2. When I first read the blurb for this book I immediately decided that it wasn’t for me. I love most of Kate Atkinson’s other books so was disappointed by the sound of this one. However, I may have to put it on my to read pile if you recommend it!

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