Title: Life After Life
Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is a strange exercise in the what if’s. It takes scenes from Ursula Todd’s life and studies them from all angles until something eventually clicks. It is dense and can be slightly repetitive but Kate Atkinson is such a talented writer, you will not care.
I am surprised that a literary, historical based book is so popular. It is not the easiest read and it can move rather slow in places. I think the strength here is the wonder. Who hasn’t looked back and wished something could be redone, even a miniscule nothing act. Or had the thought that something tremendous could be done if one had the foresight to do so.
Life After Life is a study in the smallness of our actions. The rippling wave caused by a stones throw. It is inventive and deserves the accolades it has received. I highly recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and think it would make a perfect pick for any book club. There is so much meat to chew on, it could be discussed at great length.
Summary and cover image from goodreads.