Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson so was just a tad excited when I was invited to read and review a copy of her newest book, ‘Life After Life.’  The review copy was sent directly to me Kindle so I read it not knowing anything about it (much harder to read/find a blurb on an e-book.)  I was a little disappointed for the first 20 pages or so to find no Jackson Brodie appearing on the scene and was a little confused by the jumping around for the first maybe 40 pages but then something happened and I became hooked!

Life After Life

The story focuses on Ursula Todd,born on 11 February 1910 during a period of heavy snow that prevents the doctor getting to her in time and the baby is stillborn.  Three pages later Ursula is born with the doctor in attendance this time and survives.  She meets her next death 5 years later whilst leaning out of a  bedroom window to retrieve her knitting doll thrown out by her sadistic older brother (he remains equally nasty throughout the book.) She leans too far and crashes to the ground far below.  However, the next page in the book sees Ursula’s sister, Pamela, coming upstairs to let her know that her tea’s ready before she even climbs up onto the ledge and is thereby given a further shot at life.

The book continues in this vein with Ursula dying or facing different hardships that are resolved within a few pages.  It is a very interesting concept and as the book progressed, I liked seeing the connections building up between certain characters and events.  A woman she shares time with in a bunker in 1945 becomes a woman she saves from a bomb in another life and then just a passer-by in another thread.

This book is very different to Atkinson’s crime novels but is written in her usual clever story-telling prose.  I found ‘Life After Life’ harder to get into than her previous books but once you’re in its ‘pocket’ you want to keep reading until you get to Ursula’s final, final death.

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