Carlie asked:

Why do you think the book ended with the midwife? What do you feel her role was in the story?

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Katrina Stonoff Alethea, I think the real question is ... does it actually end where it ends?

I read an interview with Atkinson where she said she doesn't see the story as over at the end. She sees Ursula continuing to live life after life, tweaking her decisions, long after the book ends. In fact, she said she thinks eventually Ursula may even be successful at assassinating Hitler.

I think that's why she ended with the midwife -- to clue us in that Ursula is just beginning another run at her life.
F I agree with Katrina Stonoff. I was confused about the ending, and also dissapointed, but when I started writing about my questions on the ending I think I found the answer.


I thought at first that she was perfecting her life, and the last life (where her brother comes back alive from WW2) would be the final one. But she is born again in the last chapter.

It is not that there is no end to the circularity of her life, it is that there are still some things she will go to perfect, lets say, getting married with Ben Cole/having her own children.

The quick mention (and not dealt with again) of Benjamin Cole as an Israeli politician in 1967 points to a future life in which she marries him and he does not become an Israeli politician/Stern Gang terrorist, or, she goes to live in Israel.

Maybe a final life in which she manages to kill Hitler but is not killed by his bodyguards. I think that she thinks (and argues in the book) that if it weren't for Hitler, there would have been no Holocaust. And without the Holocaust there would not be the State of Israel. Without an Israel, Ben Cole would still be in England and maybe he marries her.

Contra-factually she *could* be right (I mean, I am a History teacher, specialized in Israeli history and I know that the Holocaust was present in the minds of many when the 1947 Partition resolution was voted), but without an Holocaust, there would have been 6 million more Jews that could have immigrated to Israel (and maybe would have liked to, given that Europe was suffering the famines and dislocation of WW2), and in any case, there already was an important Jewish community in Eretz Israel before 1939 that could have exerted an attraction to European Jews. The 1947 Partition resolution, while spiritually important, was not followed by concrete action by the UN, the Jews had to defend themselves alone from the attack of five Arab armies. They could have done so even better if there would have been 6 million Jews more, even if in 1947 there would not have been a Partition resolution. Countries are not born out of UN resolutions in the end :). But what is contra-factually correct is not necessary for the book to work. I think that Atkinson thought on the lines of no Hitler, no Holocaust (maybe also no WW2), no Israel, Ben Cole marries her in England instead of living in Israel.

Farnoosh Brock
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Susan DeGaetano I assumed it ended with the nurse unable to get there in the snowstorm, because that is what happens right before Ursula is about to be born again. (Ursula is not able to change that.)
Anneliese I wondered if this suggested that Ursula is never able to get it right. That it starts again... As to why this is told with the midwife's perspective instead of someone else's, I'm not sure.
Catherine Dalby
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Alethea I've wondered myself. Does it end where it began?
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