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.

The Micawber Tavern

Last night, Hubby and I escaped without kids and went out for a very enjoyable meal at the lovely Micawber Tavern near where we live. I forgot to take my camera with me so didn’t get to take any photos of the inside, which is made to look like an old Dickensian street. It also has a snug appropriately called ‘The Dickens room’ but we hadn’t reserved a table in there so we were with the rest of the ‘paupers’ in the main room.

Micawber

Whilst we were enjoying our kid-free meal (no chicken nuggets or pink cordial on our table, thank you very much!) we got onto the subject of Blogs and I realised how long it has been since I posted on Reading in The Bath. My apologies. In my defence, I have gone back to full-time work and am finding it quite the juggle with having 4 primary aged kids and all their sport commitments and social lives (theirs not mine… They get out a lot more than I do these days!)  However, I promise to try my best to keep updating this Blog as often as I can as I do enjoy it and want to share the wonderful books I read with you all.

‘So Much Pretty,’ so much violence.

This is a creepy, sinister and dark read… and I loved it. I have to admit that it took me awhile to get into it but once I was there, I couldn’t read it fast enough. The last time that happened to me with a book was when I read ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’  I almost threw TGWTDT away after the first few chapters but I persevered and so glad I did as it is one of my all-time favourite books. Funnily enough, on the cover of ‘So Much Pretty,’ Booklist compares it to a ‘mixture of ‘The Lovely Bones’ and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’

The story of ‘So Much Pretty’ is about Wendy, a nineteen year-old waitress living a small-town life in Haeden, New York.  The story is about so much more than Wendy though.  Her story is the catalyst for what else happens in the book, which is told though the eyes of a few different characters, all of whom are fascinating.  My favourite is Alice.  She was at school the same time as Wendy but now Wendy’s tortured and violated body has been found, 6 months after her disappearance.  No one in the town is talking but someone sure knows something.  We only get to really hear Wendy’s voice once in the book and it is the chilliest, darkest chapter I have read in a book for a long time.

I don’t want to write more about Alice as she is essential to the whole book and I would hate to give something away inadvertently.  On a side note though, I don’t think I’ve mentioned on ‘Reading in the Bath’ so far that when I read a book, I always look forward to deciphering or finding out in the book how it got its’ title.  Some are obvious but others are more subtle.  This one was hidden in one of the many little conversations that happen in the book, which make you feel just a little shiver creeping along just underneath the skin:

“A man can only take so much pretty walking back and forth in front of him.”  He said pretty like he meant something else.

wicked Wicked

Hmm, I don’t usually post before I’ve finished reading a book but thought I’d jump on with my ‘dilemma.’ I’m usually a fast reader but for some reason, it’s taking me a looong time to get through ‘Wicked’, which surprises me as it grabbed my attention very early on in the book and it’s quirky and fun to read. The problem is that I’m not loving it nor feeling it too keenly. I’m three quarters of the way though and even though it’s not a big book at all, I know it’ll be another week before I’m on here reviewing the finished book. What are other people’s thoughts on ‘Wicked’ and other Gregory Maguire books? This is my first one…

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