Saturday, October 15, 2016

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I've never had the pleasure of reading a Kate Atkinson book before.  Now I know what I've been missing.  

Life After Life is her latest novel--coming out in April.  I was lucky to receive an ARC.  This novel has so much in it, I can't possibly tell it all--and anyway, it would spoil the whole story if I did.  So be prepared for lots of vagueness in this review.  It's for your own good. 

Ursula Todd is born during a snow storm in England in 1910.  And she dies.  Then she's born again, but this time survives.  This happens repeatedly during Ursula's life--or lifetimes.  And you keep going back and starting over again at a certain point in Ursula's life, where things are just a bit different--and so Ursula's life takes a different direction.  I've likened this to an adult version of Create Your Own Adventure books, and for those who have no idea what they are--the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow.  Just one change in a choice or a reaction starts Ursula on a whole new life path.  

This novel is brilliant.  Ursula and her family--her father Hugh, her mother Sylvie, her siblings--especially Pamela--are just such a wonderful group of people.  Their comedic one-liners, their droll sense of humor, their obvious love for each other (except for Maurice--the eldest brother who is a complete boor) is so much a part of what makes this a book you can't put down.  Taking place over 35 years--during World War I, and during World War 2, you see the progression of the family as the children grow up, move along in life, and struggle to survive in a world that seems to have gone mad.  

And Ursula.  I'm so glad I read about her early in the year, so I can think about her character all year and enjoy her spunk, smarts, and struggle to make sense out of what her life seems to be, but may not be.  It's a dizzying swirl of what might have been and what could be.  Her life is a prime example of how each one of us impacts those around us--how our actions can turn everything around to a happy outcome or a disaster.  Happiness, bliss, or sadness and grief?  Circles, circles, circles.  Ripples in the water.  

I loved this book.  I have found another author to read!  What an incredibly smart book to create.  I can't imagine how hard it was to write this.  It's like a writing exercise where you have to re-write the same scene over and over again, but change it each time in subtle but crucial ways.   Amazing.  

One more thing:  you must be patient while reading this book.  Do not give up.  Just keep reading.  You'll get into the rhythm quickly.  Consider this a challenge for you this year.  Just read it.  Seriously.  And reading groups?  Hello.  This will keep you talking for months. 

Rating:  9/10 for sheer brilliance, wonderful characters you don't want to say good bye to, and just the right touches of comedy and seriousness.  

Available in paperback, e-book, and audio.


  1. added it to my wish list, reminds me of the dog book, which names illudes me... and i sobbed my head off even!

  2. This book sounds amazing! I'm a voracious reader so I really enjoy your reviews :-)

  3. I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down until I finished. If you have always wondered what would have happened in your life had you done something differently and get that deja vu feeling then this is the book for you. The story is wonderfully written.