Say something about yourself!
As noted by other reviewers, this book poses some very intriguing questions, primary among them--"If I'd made just one different decision, even a seemingly small one, what impact would that have had on the path my life took?"
I'll also read it again to better examine the careful selection of language. It is no small feat to take a story that repeats itself in some ways over and over--and keep the reader hooked. Atkinson is skillful with even the least of syllables.
Ursula, in all her many incarnations, offered too many memorable moments to select just one. I must say, I do really love how protective and "mama bear" she becomes with her daughter. Lovely scenes there.
What changes...what remains the same?
Although I'm a Kate Atkinson fan, I avoided this book for a long time, thinking that the plot sounded a little too paranormal for my tastes. I'm so glad I read it. Literally, I couldn't stop listening.
I think fans of Audrey Neffeneger, Sebbastian Faulk, Julian Barnes, and AS Byatt will get a lot out of this book.
I must also say that the narration is simply outstanding. I will be nominating Fenella Woolgar for every audio award out there, And reading every book she has narrated. Just abrilliant, peerless performance, a beautiful voice, with excellent accents.
In a beautifully narrated presentation, Atkinson's novel unfolds to us, layer upon layer, a story of great depth and character. A thriller, a saga, a deep well of richness in which to immerse yourself.
If time is a river Ursula can swim to the bank and reenter at different points. The result is a different, though not necessarily better outcome in Atkinson’s book. When things aren’t going well, usually resulting in death, she can go back to the beginning or even some crucial crossroads and have another go at it. There is a subconscious learning experience that seems to gradually produce a vestigial memory along with more satisfactory results. There is a bit of Groundhog Day (the movie) in this but the writing is first rate which makes the different iterations easy and interesting to follow. As the do overs mount up Ursula has a déjà vu inkling that she’s been there (here) and done that before. The psychiatrist fond of Eastern religions that she sees in some of her lives mentions reincarnation. That’s not quite what she is experiencing but there is the aspect of getting it right before moving on to some other plane of existence or nonexistence. A good story of a large family in pre-WWI England through post WWII provides the backdrop for the timeless pursuit of better outcomes. The notion of reliving life is not so farfetched since most of us do it regularly in our daydreams. Atkinson supplies substance to such daydreams through Ursula and does a fine job of it.
Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
This is one of my favorite books of the past year (out of about 60). The concept is intriguing, and the protagonist becomes more compelling with each iteration. The minor characters also acquire more depth as they resurface throughout the stories. The narrator could not have been better. And the ending is tremendously satisfying. This is not a book I'll soon forget.
I expected that one would come to understand why and/or how this poor woman had to keep re-living her life. That just never happened. I also expected that with each chance to do it over again she would have taken completely different paths - rather, she just made little nuanced changes to her life that still ended in her repeatedly dying. Lastly, and perhaps unrealistically, that something would occur such that she would stay dead eventually.
The sense that the book didn't end, and the author created no sense that it ever would.
Ursula's father was kind, but I loved the character of the Cook. She struck me as not a particularly good cook, and a grumpy old woman, yet there was something in her that loved this family.
Imagination - the entire time, I found myself wondering what different path I would take given multiple times to try. Although, Ursula has really bad luck, because she just keeps on running into fatality.
Despite all of this, the prose was beautifully written and the story was interesting until I realized that it would never have a satisfactory conclusion and I would be left with a sense of having not "finished" the story.
Even the excellent narration couldn't keep me interested in this book; 2 hours into the performance and I was still unattached to the characters and their lives. It just wasn't to my taste.
This one just didn't work for me. The "Groundhog Day" plot mechanism where she keeps dying and being reborn serves a purpose, but it's just not worth it. I'm glad I was listening to this because I would have never made it past page 100 if I tried to read it.
Lawyer, reader, writer, performer. Just love listening to books and talking about it!
A new subgenre: Literary Time Punk!
This book was well written and very intriguing. It was a character driven book while the unique premise of the book made it also event driven, giving the author the ability to explore England in the Great War through WWII, with a few side explorations. Also chalk full of great quotes. How did a book accomplish all that? Read it and see.
At first I was unsure about this book, but the more we lives we lived, the better it got. It was a fascinating study on what could be, what might have been. This could have gone on and I would still be listening.
Member Since 2006!!
This book kept coming up in my Goodreads recommendations so when it finally became available in Audible I snatched it up.
What a letdown! It felt like more like a collection of short stories with the same cast, but no solid plot.
Sure it was interesting to hear details about the same events from different points of view, and I have to admit that it did grow on me as it went along, but ultimately I was expecting something much more compelling and was left disappointed.