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 book was really good, but difficult to follow at times. I feel like it may have been easier to just read it. The narrator was great, though. I'd definitely recommend it!
I learned about this book on NPR from their story about the sequel which just came out. It was not a five-star book for me at first; my thought process went something like,"I thought she died!"
"I thought HE died! Why is this author making me get all sad about characters that don't really die?"
But then maybe I'm not listening to these audiobooks as carefully as I always think I am...
No, NO! Some characters die over and over. This is just an unreliable narrator, but it's okay because the situations and characters are so interesting that I want them to live and go on to do great things, like dig people out during the blitz, prevent a rape, or plan how to learn German, befriend Eva Brown, and kill Hitler
Every time I pay attention to World War II, I learn new aspects of the those horrifying years. Once I got past my confusion, this book was pretty consistently fascinating and the best I've heard/read in a while.
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.
I have always loved to read. Discovering audible has been great for a multitasker! Sorry for any misspells on reviews!
This book is more of a life story rather than an adventure. We follow Ursala through her lives and see the way she tries to change things for the better ( with only intuitive feelings of her past lives). Each life gets a little longer and she retains more of her past memories with them towards the end.
I really enjoyed the story all though it is not action packed. My only problem with the story is that is was often confusing as it jumped from life to life, I had to pay very close attention or re-listen often to figure out what was going on. It may be less confusing in written form. I was also left wondering at some of the changes in her lives that she did not cause such as the adoption of a certain baby, did someone else in her family also repeat lives and change things or was it just a random happening. The ending of the book left me a little disappointed as I am not sure what was done to keep someone alive and also the very last sentences of the book were about a person who only had a few words mentioned about them prior and I never really understood their part in the story at all. It may be that I missed something that I would have understood if I read the book. I think the narrator gave a good performance. Over all I would rate my enjoyment of the book a 4 to 5 star but my satisfaction at a 3.
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!!
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.
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