Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Published by Black Swan
30th January 2014
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.
It's taken me a long time to read the latest Kate Atkinson, but with the imminent arrival of A God in Ruins, I felt that I had little choice but to finally grasp it from the shelf and dive in. I actually have this book twice, one in kindle format and again in paperback so I must have been keen to read it having purchased it twice!
It's an interesting synopsis - what if you could live your life again and again until the right decisions were made? Life after Life follows the Todd family from the end of 1910 beginning with the birth of baby Ursula. In our first scenario, Ursula dies before even taking her first breath. In our second scenario, she lives. This concept reoccurs throughout the book, with Ursula growing to be able to predict the scenarios in front of her but without knowing why. Spanning the first and second world wars, Life after Life is a commendable novel that looks at the 'what if' dilemma and shows how simple decision making can, in many cases, save lives.
I don't think this review can do any justice to just how good I think Life after Life is. I usually hate prize winning novels - they are usually too high-brow for me and I struggle to read them, but this prize, in my opinion, is certainly justified. I can only recommend that you pick it up and give it a go. For me, it reminded me of reading the fabulous Cazalet books by Elizabeth Jane Howard and I loved the Todd family and all their eccentricities. Now I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of A God in Ruins.
Miss Chapter x