The story is kind of like an onion. Our heroine, basically, lives several lives at once. Surprisingly, the author manages to pull it off without much confusion or contrivance. Even more surprising, it works in audio form (credit goes to the narrator as well, who is quite good). I did not give it five stars only because, as another reviewer also mentions, there is one gratuitous event that turns what is a very believable bunch of lives into a fairy tale for a moment. The novel did not need that -- and it makes the book almost fail towards the end.
Still, I liked it. Particularly the fact that, even though the heroine is shaped by the events in her lives, she is -- at her core -- who she is in spite of that.
Have enjoyed all of Kate Atkinson's books. This one is no exception.
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.
Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
UGH! I'm so confused. It's good, not great. It's boring and fascinating. It's clever but kind of cheats to be smart. You should take your time, but hurry along.
This well written, but overly long book has such a clever premise that the actuality of it is a bit of a disappointment. And even with that criticism, the heart of this book is smart and well written, but just requires a lot of patience. I did have more than a few times when I felt like this was a cheat being able to start over just as your character is painted into the proverbial corner, but then she does a wonderful job transmitting the agony of war and loss you're so curious about how our hero's life will be different. This is definitely a long car ride, meandering vacation, listen, but then again, if you put it down for too long you forget where you are when life replays itself.
This is a TRULY BRITISH book. If you're an Anglophile (or entranced with British history shows), you may have more patience with this one than I had.
Never without an audible book on my phone!
In this unusual novel, the main character, Ursula, dies and is re-born dozens of times. Upon each re-birth she enters the same life again and again. And, each time, through pure instinct and déjà vu, she tries to fix previous mistakes that led to her death and to the death of friends and family.
The premise of Life After Life, led me to think about our opportunities for remedying mistakes in the life we are currently living. Surely, we can’t go back in time and prevent things from occurring, but, on the other hand, might we somehow shift our memories and the memories of others?
Great writing and a really unique premise. I would have given it 5 stars overall, but I thought the author concentrated on repeating Ursula's lives during WWII way too much.
This book was a surprise! Like nothing I have heard before. The narration was one of the best parts for me, I know it wouldn't have been the same if I had read it myself. That is my favorite thing about Audible... the stories come to life like they could never have done with me just reading!! (I may never READ a book again!!)
Life after Life had me on the edge from first word to last. A story of the never ending do-over even if you don't want to do it over. What a concept! All I can say is give it a chance, I'm so glad I did. 5 star all around!!
Perhaps this is a book that is better read than listened to. I couldn't follow the story line well and got frustrated. I hardly ever put a book down before I finish it but I just couldn't go on. Others in our book club made it through but they also felt it was hard to read and follow.
I think this would have been an ok book to read, but never as an audio-book. The concept of having different lives, or different endings to your life's stories is interestimg, but you absolutely cannot follow it as an audio book. It jumped from time to time, back and forth again, and there was no was to tell what "life" I listening to. it was incredibly frustrating!! I don't recommend this book at all!
I just did not like this story at all. It had such potential for me, and just fell short. But I'm not sure how valid my opinion is.... I hated the movie Groundhog's Dog! That's pretty much what this story is, the same thing over and over. If there had just been a few less long drawn out birth scenes, I think it would have at least been a little better. Would never recommend this and would sooner poke out my eyes than read it again.
I found that this book, while well written, had me confused a lot of the time since it is not in any sort of chronological order. I enjoyed the stories and the ending, but it was not my favorite audiobook.