What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can - will she?
Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original - this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
©2011 Kate Atkinson (P)2013 Hachette Audio
I never re-read books or re-listen to them EXCEPT for Bill Bryson and Kate Atkinson. I just may give this one another listen.
Izzy! I love a crazy Auntie.
She had a great ability to evoke many different characters.
Ursula was such a compelling character.
If you liked Behind the Scenes at the Museum, you will especially love this one.
I am a huge Kate Atkinson fan. I love her writing, her characters and her stories. But this book, halting after faltering so many times, made me finally give up. I'm not sure the performance was as bad as the book, but I couldn't get through either.
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.
What an astonishing writer Ms. Atkinson is. Paired with a marvelous and pitch perfect reader too. Found myself "rewinding the tape" - sometimes more than once - just to relish the prose and the performance. Three cheers!
No, once I have listened/read a story don't typically re-read. I know the ending!
It was truthfully a little difficult to get into this story - maybe 50-70 pages. But once I figured out what the author was doing, I was hooked. A sign of a great story is that I think about it during the day at work, eager to resume reading/listening at the next opportunity. T
No - I've never listened to a book read by Fenella. I listen to a lot of books and this is the very first time I looked up the name of a reader so I could listen to another performance by the same person. She was simply TERRIFIC!
Ursala - again and again she was my favorite.
Is Ursula a revenant? Are her stories extracted from a multi-verse web of alternate realities? I give credit to Kate Atkinson for a bold attempt to thread alternate endings through what essentially feels more like many short stories. The linkage of other people's lives throughout turned this into a novel. However, the same path was often taken by other characters and I found this a little discombobulating.
One can easily become attached or maddened by the various Ursulas... living through her within poignantly detailed and historically rich snippets of time. One can slide into her shoes and experience her plights or fates, and one will no doubt start to imagine other paths the main dystopian protagonist, Ursula may take. I imagine Ursula being grateful to not be fully aware of her alternate lives, but feeling more and more a cloud of dislocating memories hanging over her present experiences. The deadweight of maddening déjà-vus should have rendered her schizophrenic, it would certainly have turned this reader into one!
Historical references and depictions brought this very much to life.
There were some moments in the first few rounds of life where I was holding back the tears as little Ursula struggled to live, again, and again...
A good read. Crisp, clean narration though I am not sure Ms. Woolgar was quite my cup of tea.
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.
No. I was constantly lost in following the time line of the story. Not suitable for an audio book because it needs to be listened to without pausing.
Make the time line more evident.
I gave up in on this audio book
The concept behind this book is fascinating, but the upshot seems to be bleakness and futility. Making different choices just leads to different miseries. So many ways to be unhappy and to die and so many times reliving the horrors of WWII. The only good thing for those who lived through it was that it finally ended! Here it keeps coming back.
For the last third of the book I was wanting to fast forward but never knew exactly where things might change (they don't, much!). And although I spent so much time with the main character, she still seemed a bit of a blank.
The narration was excellent and the evocation of the different eras was quite good, but overall I was quite disappointed. I wonder if this would get published if it was Atkinson's first book.
In my opinion, Connie Willis' 2-part work, Blackout & All Clear, is a much superior book about both the Blitz and the effects of individuals on history.
Make this a short story instead of a novel.
When Ursula was responding to bombings during the blitz.
This book is a slow, boring version of Groundhog Day. It takes way too long to get to the point.
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