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Life After Life: A Novel | [Kate Atkinson]

Life After Life: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    Annie M. 03-14-14
    Annie M. 03-14-14 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Will read it again..and again"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Life After Life?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    What changes...what remains the same?


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Chemel 04-21-13
    Lee Chemel 04-21-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Unexpectedly enthralling"

    In a beautifully narrated presentation, Atkinson's novel unfolds to us, layer upon layer, a story of great depth and character. A thriller, a saga, a deep well of richness in which to immerse yourself.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 04-08-13
    Rebecca 04-08-13 Member Since 2014

    been a member since 2012. I never leave gone without my phone in my purse. Never EVER want to leave home without Audible attached to my ear

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "SOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!!"

    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!!

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 05-14-13
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 05-14-13 Member Since 2003

    Michael

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deja vu all over again"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barrister Book Club VP 05-16-14
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    "Hope the "Book" Dies and Is Never Reincarnated"
    What disappointed you about Life After Life?

    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


    What could Kate Atkinson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    She could have stopped writing after the first death of the lead character, Ursula


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Every time Ursula died.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No, it did not, which is terrible waste, considering the time spent


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miss Irene Portland OR 12-08-13
    Miss Irene Portland OR 12-08-13 Member Since 2014

    Miss Irene

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    "Just Couldn't Get Into This Book"

    Even the excellent narration couldn't keep me interested in this book; 2 hours into the performance and I was still unattached to the characters and their lives. It just wasn't to my taste.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcy Fairfield, CT, United States 05-08-13
    Marcy Fairfield, CT, United States 05-08-13 Member Since 2009
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    "I never wanted it to end"

    At first I was unsure about this book, but the more we lives we lived, the better it got. It was a fascinating study on what could be, what might have been. This could have gone on and I would still be listening.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 12-28-14
    Simone 12-28-14 Member Since 2014

    Join me on GoodReads too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Letdown"

    This book kept coming up in my Goodreads recommendations so when it finally became available in Audible I snatched it up.

    What a letdown! It felt like more like a collection of short stories with the same cast, but no solid plot.

    Sure it was interesting to hear details about the same events from different points of view, and I have to admit that it did grow on me as it went along, but ultimately I was expecting something much more compelling and was left disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noel Romey Midlothian, VA USA 10-13-14
    Noel Romey Midlothian, VA USA 10-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Disappointing"

    I normally like these kinds of books, metaphysical retellings of past lives etc. I loved The Fifteen Live of Harry August, but this book go tedious really quickly. It seemed to me like the author had a good idea, and it was well-written, but it was confusing, haphazard, and generally irritating. I didn't see the point of a retelling of lives seemingly changing random facts, especially since the main character kinda sorta knew that something mighta possibly have happened before. Ending was definitely odd to say the least. I'm not saying I'd never read another thign Kate Atkinson has written, but this one really didn't do it for me. The performance by the narrator was good, but it didn't help make me love the book itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather 09-20-14
    Heather 09-20-14
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    "Boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book was on a lot of most read lists so I picked it up. If you liked 100 Years of Solitude you might enjoy it, but I didn't.


    Has Life After Life turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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