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
This was my most horrible reading experience in the past 15 years. I read Life After Life because of my beloved Book Club, which I think is testing my resolve to finish a bad book. This “book” is quite similar to the movie Ground Hog’s Day, except take away all the humor or lovable characters. It is numbingly boring; dull scenes repeat, with subtle variations. It is a perfect example of pretentious authorship. You guessed it -- it drew in some fop critics. The “book” will die and thankfully never be reincarnated. I just wish the same fate had met Ursula. Maybe I will write a novel of redemption about the misunderstood, but creepy man from the lane or the charming sausage and cigar man. The same stupid critics will glom on my work … “like the moths drawn to warm light on a chilly night in late November when leaves whisper meanings discernible only fleetingly to a few of the touched.” Skip this dreck!Barristers Book Club Vice President
She could have stopped writing after the first death of the lead character, Ursula
Every time Ursula died.
No, it did not, which is terrible waste, considering the time spent
I ENJOYED THE STORY BUT SINCE I LISTENED TO IT WHILE WALKING AND STOPPED IS UNTIL THE NEXT WALK, I LOST THE CONSISTENCY OF THE STORY. I WOULD RECOMMEND THE STORY AS I DID LIKE THE SUBJECT AND THE CHARACTERS.
THE CHARACTERS WERE VERY INTERESTING
MY FAVORITE WAS URSALA.
THE PART ABOUT THE WAR.
Probably not, but only because I am not that interested in listening to any audiobooks a second time.
Not a book, but I was reminded a lot of the latest season of Upstairs-Downstairs. I could snarkily say "Groundhog Day" as well, but I think the way she plays with time to emphasize and re-emphasize elemental truths about humanity reminded me a lot of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and DeLillo's Underworld.
The care she took in giving each character a voice, even when it was difficult. Keeping the Irish maid distinct from the lower-class coal stoker is one thing. Breathing incandescently unique life into Sylvie and her two daughters Pamela and Ursula, three women whose upbringing and accents are, basically, identical, AND then tracking that uniqueness through four decades of growing up was another all together, and it was splendid.
Funny question. This book is so long it was never a question. Nonetheless, I think I would say "no" regardless. The harrowing ends Ursula meets can be tough to stomach. Too many in one go could get a little relentless.
I am more and more impressed with the quality of these audio recordings, and more and more pleased with my Audible Gold membership. I have now listened to ~ 9 audiobooks, and 8 of 9 have been good (and most of those, including this one, have been GREAT).
This is one of the few books I would listen to again.
Stick with it. The story is multilayered and wonderful.
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.
The reader was excellent. Unfortunately, the material, although well-written, was a frustrating read. Repeating the same story with different ways to die was exceptionally confusing and in many cases, boring.
The World War II era in England is a fascinating period in history. If the writer had kept to one story line instead of adapting several permutations of how the heroine, Ursula, would have died had events gone differently was a complete disappointment.
The descriptions of living during the bombing blitz in London was well done.
Thank goodness in real life we die only once.
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
I really liked this book, though it brought up interesting ideas and took place in England during WWI and II, which I tend to like. There are bits about Hitler that I think were too much of stretch, but otherwise, I really enjoyed listening. I found myself really rooting for Ursula to have a good life.
The tone of the story is so subtly emotional; it's beautiful in a way that is not sentimental or overwrought.
Several moments repeated, and the very idea of memory or of the way one small event can change the course of your life is in itself memorable. Particularly when Ursula avoids disaster and her life takes a better course, the story becomes more memorable.
The awful Maurice was so well done, as was the heroine, Ursula.
It's very thoughtful and lovely. It reminded me of Virginia Woolf for it's subtle power and existential questioning of individuality and interpersonal relationships, to put it in a way that robs it of its aesthetic wonder.
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