What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
©2013 Kate Atkinson (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks
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I loved this book! It is definitely a slow burn and I confess that the first chapter dragged so much that I almost gave up, but it got going, this was a superb read. I love the "sliding doors" kind of element - what would life be like if this had happened instead of that? Thought provoking.
This is a good listen, but do take note of the dates at the beginning of each chapter or you will get lost. In a book you can just turn back the page. But notwithstanding the date bit, it is a good story, incredibly sad in parts especially the war, but a very well thought out and clever book. The narrator is very good.
When I first downloaded this book it defeated me. I could not cope with the shift of time and circumstances of the characters. I was intrigued by the idea but found I could not follow the storyline. I decided to download the kindle version and finally conquered and enjoyed this book. I think the book needs to be read fairly quickly to follow the changes in time and place, a hard copy would have been an useful addition just to check how things progressed when a point needed clarifying. I am pleased that I persevered as there were clever references to the development of the story as the plot unravelled. definitely thought provoking.
"A thought provoking and engrossing marvel."
I actually had the book as well as the audio and switched from one to the other; a fascinating experiment which worked beautifully depending upon what situation I was in each time. Fenella Woolgar is sublime and her voice(s) followed me to the book. Brilliant.
"Stick with it - you won'tbe disappointed."
Just the whole story - weird on so many levels, but compelling. It left me rather breathless.
The story of firewatching in London. It reminded me of my mother's stories of firewatching in Liverpool. And I want to know more.
I'm not sure about the narration. Often words were swallowed which was annoying.
No, there was too much to take all at once
I will be looking at more of Kaye Atkinson's books.
For those who may be hesitant to try this book because of comparisons with the plotlines of movies like Groundhog Day and About Time, don't be. Yes the main thread through the book is a musing on how a life might be if it was possible to go back and influence the outcome of key moments in it. This is well-trodden ground but then there are no true new story-lines. Kate Atkinson is a really skilful writer with a great ear for dialogue and an ability to create a cast of characters that feel real. The novel is set between the war years and during the second world-war. I cannot vouch for every detail but the historical setting feels right and the characters speak the way you would expect them to speak. I don't recall a single anachronistic phrase or event. The narrator is excellent. She speaks very clearly, pauses where you need to pause, and brings life to the characters. All in all, well worth your time - possibly more than once.
"A good story, well read."
The idea of having infinite amounts of time is fascinating. It took me awhile to get used to the audio version, as (of course) you keep going back, but once I realised that I wasn't continually loosing my place! I really enjoyed the book. Ursula is a good character to follow as she's self-effacing. Having one person's life repeat over and over again is a great narrative device, allowing the reader to engage with the other characters in Ursula's life at a deep level, this (for me) is one of the best bits of the book - we really care about Ursula's family. We are with her as she navigates through various horrors, and have a real sense of dread when certain situations approach.
Because the reader grows so close to these multi-faceted characters surrounding Ursula, a different kind of light is shed on the world wars - sandwiched between various calamities, and the exhausting nightmares of clearing up after bombs, I felt Kate Atkinson really showed the confusion and exhaustion of war.
Worth a read, or a listen.
Parts very good but had to keep rewinding to keep up with time spans of book,but good idea to story
Calm soothing interesting
Good idea but perhaps a better read than audio as difficult to keep track
"An intersting concept"
The idea of repeating a life is not new, but this book doesn't just take one other possible path that a life could have taken, but multiple paths. It was quite gripping and throoughly enjoyable
At first I loved this book then I felt it lost its way in the middle and the ending just confused me. However, as I pondered the ending I realised that I am still thinking about this novel and its many possible meanings and isn't this what a good book should do? It lingers, leaving you thinking long after you've finished.
Superbly narrated by Fenella Woolgar, this was a pleasure to listen to and she certainly did capture the voice of the era. The story and narration brought war-torn London and the horrors of the Blitz so vividly to life, it captivated me and despite not having a huge interest in WWII, Atkinson's descriptions of London during the Blitz were so compelling I now want to learn more about this time period.
This is an extraordinary and complex story, but also a very meandering story, examining bits of one life then having a look at another, some lives more dramatic or interesting than others, some only subtly changed. Sometimes I was just happy to drift along with Ursula from life to life, at others times I felt frustrated thinking " not again" when yet another re-boot begins. This was in some part the point of the novel I guess, life isn't always meaningful, sometimes it just bumbles along and we drift with the current despite having many opportunities for change, at other times we make conscious choices that are life-altering and sometimes we move forward only to end up where we started. This is a story that has so many layers it goes far beyond a simple "life after life" it has lingered a long time with me and certainly warrants a re-read.
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