What a strange, absolutely mesmerizing read! Like other reviewers noted, I was a little confused at times, but Ms Atkinson really handled the reincarnation aspect in a unique way. But it was Fenella Woolgar's narration that really captured my attention. I don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much just reading it. She brought it all to life for me.
Kate Atkinson's brilliant writing, though it ties with Fenella Woolgar's equally brilliant narration.
The way the character-building is deepened, not cheapened, by the repeated lives.
Ursula, the protagonist; though she performs them all well.
The scenes of the abusive marriage were difficult to listen to. I was glad when that life was over.
Woolgar's is the best audiobook performance I've come across to date.
I'm the author of the book "Bronx DA" and an attorney.
The writing in this book is just lovely - super evocative. Atkinson really knows how to paint an environment and make the reader feel. This story is about Ursula, a woman who keeps getting another chance to get it right - like a really heavy "Groundhog Day." What's really successful here is the way Atkinson is able to loop back in time and re-run a similar story over and over again without being redundant. I also love the way that the smallest thing - deciding to wear a dress or not to, deciding to let the boy kiss you or not to, can change the entire future for the character.
There is a rape scene in the book that is so heartbreaking. It's done very differently than I've ever seen before and the horror of the moment is in the absolute ignorance and confusion of the victim. It really helps you understand not just the victim and the environment that she's in, but also a lot about the times - how someone would have been impacted by what they are or are not told. The fallout from the rape is excruciating - you can only hope that it won't happen to Ursula again in the next life.
Woolgar really has a lovely reading voice and it's appropriate to the timing of the book, which is primarily early to mid 1900s. She also does an excellent job of distinguishing different characters and of doing male voices in a way that's seamless.
This is the kind of book you need a break from. The story is relentless. It's very stressful to be constantly waiting for a character to die, but at the same time, be invested in her getting the opportunity to live her life perfectly. I looked forward to getting back to this story, but I definitely needed some breathers!
The story structure.
The narrator was the perfect voice for the story and character, and a delight to listen to.
The heroine of the story, as her decisions and motivations would make for great conversation. However, I think her father would also be a delightful dinner partner.
I liked this book a lot, as it's extremely well written and tells interesting stories about a likable character who has a wealth of interesting experiences over a lifetime beginning in 1910. But the book's structure frustrated me. Not because I got lost as one after another of Ursula Todd's many lives (and deaths) morphed into the next and time shifted accordingly, but because I expected to see more obvious connections and threads in and between her many stories, as one does in Colum McCann's "Transatlantic", the best book I've read in a while. As in "Transatlantic", where real-life characters such as Frederick Douglass and Senator George Mitchell make more-than-cameo appearances, Eva Braun and Adolph Hitler figure in an interesting story line in "Life After Life", adding to its appeal to me. Don't be put off by my three stars, which would have been 3.5 if I'd had the flexibility; try this one for yourself. Having read a number of reviews after finishing the book (the "Most Helpful" reviews currently on Amazon.com are very helpful), I realize that I probably missed many of the literary, religious and other allusions which others say lie under the surface of "Life After Life". You might not.
I don't know if I would try another book by either of them. It would have to catch my attention immediately.
Her manner was so flat, but then so was the story.
I think would have cut the very beginning, where she was born. It really got old.
I was very intrigued at the idea of this story line and thought it had so many possibilities. Unfortunately the book did not live up to my expectations.
What if you could live your life all over again? Turn a different corner, change one small thing, and everything would have been better.........or would it? Would we just encounter different sorrows or challenges, would the overall outcome be just the same?. Sometimes life is just so random and for all our planning, chance still has a powerful role to play. This is Kate Atkinson at her very best, cleverly and brilliantly written, and set during a fascinating period of history. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, I will definitely be listening to this book again!
It was unique and very interesting in the historical sense.
Ursula. She went through so much but learned from her experiences and sought to make the world a better place.
The British feel
Her love for her brother Jimmy at many points in the book.
I'm curious to see if someone else can come up with a more original, more engaging premise for a book in 2013. Praised by Gillian ("Gone Girl") Flynn as the book she herself wished she had written. Can't wait to listen to it again.
I am a dancer, health professional, meditator and avid reader. I listen to audio books while driving, working out and doing chores. I listen to non-fiction more than fiction, but enjoy both. I like books I can learn from or be inspired by. I post my favorites on Pintrest.
Change the story
The story makes you think. What would you do if? How would your own story be different if you had went this way vs that, or responded this way instead of that. The story takes place in England during the first and second world wars. If you enjoy history from that period you will enjoy it more. The main character asks questions and thinks about the meaning of life, and her beliefs in the backdrop of war. If you like thinking about those kinds of questions, you will enjoy the book.
Her voice is lovely and carries you into the story. There are times where German is spoken and she does this well. She conveys the feelings of the character, making the actions of the character more understandable.
There were so many moving places, it is hard to say one. The stories related to being in the bomb shelters during the blitz in England during WWII got me the most. Images the author paints in your mind come into view slowly, like a fog clearing, and once you see, a simple dress takes on a whole new meaning.
This is a very different book. The story is told and retold with different possiblities. It takes a little getting used to at first. The author ties elements in that helps it make sense, and makes you realize, that one change, changed everything.