Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5
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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.
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.
Equal parts depressing and fascinating, Life After Life was as difficult to read as it was to put down. It reminded me in some ways of a modern day Tess of the D’Ubervilles in that Ursula seemed to be completely out of control of her own destiny, as well as unaware of what was happening to her. Plus, you know, the sheer number of terrible things that happened to her. But the concept of this book is what makes it truly unique. It’s like a mix between time travel and reincarnation. And while the ending left me with more questions than answers, they are questions I am more than willing to ask myself again and again. While I probably won’t read Life After Life a second time, mainly due to the many unnecessary (and graphic) reminders of how terrible WWII was for ALL parties involved, it is a book I will surely be discussing and thinking about for many years to come. I strongly recommend to anyone who loves history or who just loves to think.