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Preview — Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
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Life After Life
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 ...more
Ursula Todd is born in a snowstorm in England in 1910 but dies before she can take her first breath. During that same snowstorm she was born again and lives to tell the tale; again and again. Life after Life tells the story of Ursula’s lives, as with each new life she makes small changes that send her on a completely different path.
I feel like I’m the only person on the planet that thought this book was ...more
The length, the repetitive scenes, the incredible number of times Ursula dies and is reborn, are all tedious and terrible torment to get through. 2/3rds in, I found myself offended for having my time wasted. Surely Atkinson could show ...more
this is not a jackson brodie novel, which are always much better than your typical detective novels, (even though i haven't read the last one yet - merp), but this one is just so much more ambitious in scope and style than even those gems.
it is sublime.
at its most simplistic, it is about ursula, a character who will be born and die all in the first two pages. (excluding what i am considering to be a prologue) and then again. and ...more
Paul Bryant had really only just started driving back home, was still trying with his left hand to jam the seat belt buckle into its lock, and – multitasking like mad - he was thinking about how to review Life After Life, and probably getting too caught up in the various amusing ways it could be done, so that he simply didn’t notice the car poking far too far out of the side street. When finally he did, he had to swerve like crazy, right into the oncoming traffic. What with his seat ...more
Ursula Todd is born in the midst of a blizzard in 1910, not once, but many times, during the course of her life - living only to die and be born again, repeatedly, traveling many paths until she lives the life she was meant to live.
Kate Atkinson's writing is superb, and lyrical enough that it carried me through to the end of this book. The plot, however, left me floundering for weeks, trying desperately to claw my way to the end of this depressing tale. While the premise - reincarnation and dest ...more
Obviously I'm on another planet to all the other reviewers here, but try as I might, I simply had to give up on page 265...and call it a day.
The concept of constant re-births and lives was a good one but sadly, for me,the incidents throughout were so tame and tepid, and the characters that popped into Ursula's lives were so boring, I'm afraid the whole thing was like watching paint dry.
Remember that feeling of rushing to get back to a book to read what happens next? T ...more
I'm pretty sure the idea of being forced to live my life over and over again is something plucked from my worst nightmares, but who among us hasn't been at least tempted to dream of it occasionally with a wistful sigh. Please, please, please, just one more chance to live the best moments again and when necessary, to make different choices? But I would imagine if any of us were actually tasked to unravel all the "right" and "wrong" choices from our life and to relive the bad with the good, we'd g ...more
Ursula Todd is an English-born nobody. Born into a large wealthy family, there isn’t a whole lot about her that stands out. She shares a closeness with one or two of her siblings, but overall she has a pretty meek personality and remains largely invisible most of her life—with the caveat that “most of her life” in Ursula’s case actually means “most of her lives” because this bitch keeps on d ...more
Life After Life is a novel I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself. And how sad it is to think that I might have passed this novel over and never known these characters and relationships.
It often seems like I am the only person in the world who hasn't watched Downton Abbey (definitely the only Brit who hasn't) but the favourable comparisons I keep seeing between the show and th ...more
I believe everyone would love a chance to go back and change things in their past. Correct mistakes in order to change their life or their loved ones lives for the better. But changing one thing may only lead to a new problem……then you have to go back, change the first mistake, then the second one, and so on. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exhausting to me.
Ursula g ...more
“Don’t you wonder sometimes,” Ursula said. “If just one small thing had been changed, in the past, I mean. If Hitler had died at birth, or if someone had kidnapped him as a baby and brought him up in---I don’t know, say, a Quaker household—surely things would be different.”Kate Atkinson, author of eight previous novels, including four Jackson Brodie crime books, has come up with a nifty notion for a story. Kill off your heroine, early and often, while offering a look at the history of England ...more
Ursula Todd compares her life (lives) to a palimpsest: she has an apparently infinite number of do-overs of her life. It's kind of like Groundhog Day, except that she starts over at birth each time, and each life ends with her death. She has frequent deja vu exp ...more
I struggled to find a word which would describe my reaction to Life After Life - Kate Atkinson's latest novel, released to considerable hype - and I came up with this. It's no perfect but then my reaction is not perfectly uniform as well; one can't accuse ms. Atkinson of being a hack and phoning her book in, not having an interesting enough idea or even of being a poor writer. She writes well, her concept is interesting and her writing flows easily and doesn't obstruct the storyline ...more
While I can understand the mixed reaction, and wouldn't call it a book for everyone, Life After Life is a beautifully written, acutely English, slow-burner of a novel, a beautiful piece of family drama and comedy, and a fantastic work of historical fiction. It's wrapped in a high-concept conceit of our protagonist Ursula's continual b ...more
I'm not sure I can communicate how angry this book made me and how angry I am that gave up enough of my life to read all 529 pages. I'm less mad at Atkinson, who thought she had a good idea, than I am at the idiotic book critics slobbering all over this nonsensical novel.
Many people have compared this book to the movie Groundhog Day where the main character lives the same day over and over. In Life After Life, the main character is born, lives a varying length of time, dies, and is born again....more
I imagine I'm not alone in letting my mind wander on flights of fancy in the land of "w ...more
"'From a more scientific point of view,’ he said, ‘perhaps the part of your brain responsible for memory has a little flaw, a neurological problem that leads you to think that you are repeating experiences. As if something had got stuck.’ She wasn’t really dying and being reborn, he said, she just thought she was. Ursula couldn’t see what the difference was. Was she stuck? And if so, where?""
"Sylvie sighed. ‘You do have a very vivid imagination, Ursula.’" Ursula may have a vivid imagination, b ...more
Ursula Todd was born on a snowy day in February with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. That was the first time she died...
I loved how Kate Atkinson built this story through seemingly insignificant details. As the reincarnations progress, layers are added upon layers, so that by the end of this tale, it is a rich tapestry of events, emotions and possibilities.
I was surprised by the open-endedness of this story. I feel ...more
I was fearful that such a question as the premise of a novel--as the opening scene shows our main character, Ursula Todd, shooting Hitler--would be gimmicky. But we are immediately transported back to 1910 when Ursula is born on a cold snowy night. And die ...more
Call it speculative fiction if you will, but the book involves an alternative reality plot I don’t mind callin ...more
Reincarnation? Deja vue? Perhaps. Like young Ursula's drawing of a snake with his tail in his mouth, which the psychiatrist, Dr. Kellet, deemed a symbol of the circularity of the universe. 'Time is a construct, in reality everything flows, no past or present, only the now,' he said.
It would have been a scary thought for Sylvie, who refused to drink the tea offered by Dr Kellet from his Russian samovar. Any tea out o ...more
‘Time isn’t circular,’ she said to Dr. Kellet. ‘It’s like a … palimpsest.’
‘Oh dear,’ he said. ‘That sounds vexing.’
‘And memories are sometimes in the future.’
A preternaturally wise ten-year-old Ursula Todd offers us this succinct thematic summation of Life After Life near the book’s end, after she has lived and died many times.
A palimpsest is also the perfect metaphor for Kate Atkinson’s luminous novel. Its multiple layers of theme and plot pile up like shadows, visible through the translucent ...more
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She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, ...more