REVIEW: Life After Life

I finished Life After Life with an overdramatic sigh. Not a 'what a disappointment' sigh, but a 'is there anything Kate Atkinson can't do?' sigh. And, whilst strumming my lip in consideration, I realised this: there really isn't. Stylistically, she's flawless. And, in short, her latest release is one to be cherished.

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.

Favourite Quotations:    
“Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn’t even begin to solve.”

In One Word?
Life After Life is a rare kind of novel: endlessly dazzling and consistently playful. Try to find me an author with a more distinct style than Kate Atkinson and it'll take you quite some time, I guarantee it.


  1. I've never read Kate Atkinson before but this one really sounds like a book that I would want to read! I love that it seems to be complex and I'm curious about the ideas of do-overs and near deaths... In any case, I'll keep an eye out for it!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  2. This sounds wonderful! I have never heard of this book but now I am dying to read it! Really great review that gave me an in-depth look into the book without giving anything juicy away.

    1. Thank you, glad you liked the review! I hope you get your hands on this one soon. :)

  3. Yes, I completely agree that Life After Life is a very 'what if' novel! I loved it too, although I admit that I had to skip back through the pages quite often to remember everything that had happened already. Perhaps it's one of those novels that gets better when you reread it - which I'll probably do at some point. Lovely review :)

    By the way, I went book shopping today and ended up with copies of Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Daughter of Smoke & Bone! (They also had Days of Blood & Starlight but I was skint by that point so shall have to get it when I go back to buy Dreams of Gods & Monsters!) ALSO I found a copy of How to be a Heroine in the library, yay! It's been a good day, bookwise ;)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it too. :) I also think a re-read will be helpful!

      Gah so many books I love! I hope you love them all as much as I did. I'm planning to re-read Daughter of Smoke and Bone this month so that will be fun. :D

  4. This book does sound really unique and dazzling but I feel I'd be someone who'd get confused really easily and not have a clue what's going on. I do really like the sound of it though and your review has made me want to pick it up. :O

    1. Hehe it is confusing. :) Maybe you'll pick it up if you find it at your library or something? ^.^

  5. I've never heard of Kate Atkinson, but she sounds cool. I wonder how all the lives fit together and how you manage to keep them straight. I have problems with a lot of POVs (The 100 is an example). Is Life After Life scifi or fantasy?

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists (


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