Author: Kate Atkinson | Publisher: Bond Street Books | Pages: 480 | Source: Bought |
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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.
MY THOUGHTS: In its simplest form, Life After Life is a tender depiction of the delicacies of family life. Yet, simultaneously, it is so much more. Life After Life is what I like to call a 'what if?' novel: what if there were second chances? What if she did this? What if he died? And, even if these questions aren't always explicit within the text, they're always lingering on your mind.
“What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?”
Yet the most fascinating element of this novel is undoubtedly the structure. As I know from the Jackson Brodie series, this is an author who loves to mess around with her readers' minds – and oh what fun it is! Life After Life follows a chain of deaths and near-deaths, survivals and near-survivals, leading up to a fairly ambiguous ending. If you are looking for a novel full of complexity, I cannot recommend Kate Atkinson enough – consider your wish granted. And the relationships, both family and romantic, were bittersweet. The novel feeds upon the readers' emotions, bringing laughter within the flick or a page and tears at every "darkness falls". Life After Life is ambitious, yes, but it's also Atkinson's most moving novel yet.
“She doesn't believe in dogs," Bridget said. "Dogs are hardly an article of faith," Sylvie said.”
And the characters, oh, the characters. Atkinson's characters are always a highlight and the cast of Life After Life did not disappoint. Yes, there are many novels you can find great characters in, but there are very few where the characters are genuine and credible human beings. Naturally, Life After Life fulfils both requirements.
And I honestly have no more to say. Life After Life was both utterly delightful and profoundly moving… although, dare I say, it's a novel that could perhaps benefit from a re-read – in order to remove any confusion.