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
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.
Fenella Woolgar's excellent narration kept me listening to the annoyingly redundant early chapters of this book. Eventually, Atkinson's lyrical writing pulled me in, but I got lost in the repetitive narrative a few times and had to repeat sections to keep track of what was happening. Still, it was an enjoyable listening experience.
What a strange, absolutely mesmerizing read! Like other reviewers noted, I was a little confused at times, but Ms Atkinson really handled the reincarnation aspect in a unique way. But it was Fenella Woolgar's narration that really captured my attention. I don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much just reading it. She brought it all to life for me.
Kate Atkinson's brilliant writing, though it ties with Fenella Woolgar's equally brilliant narration.
The way the character-building is deepened, not cheapened, by the repeated lives.
Ursula, the protagonist; though she performs them all well.
The scenes of the abusive marriage were difficult to listen to. I was glad when that life was over.
Woolgar's is the best audiobook performance I've come across to date.
I'm the author of the book "Bronx DA" and an attorney.
The writing in this book is just lovely - super evocative. Atkinson really knows how to paint an environment and make the reader feel. This story is about Ursula, a woman who keeps getting another chance to get it right - like a really heavy "Groundhog Day." What's really successful here is the way Atkinson is able to loop back in time and re-run a similar story over and over again without being redundant. I also love the way that the smallest thing - deciding to wear a dress or not to, deciding to let the boy kiss you or not to, can change the entire future for the character.
There is a rape scene in the book that is so heartbreaking. It's done very differently than I've ever seen before and the horror of the moment is in the absolute ignorance and confusion of the victim. It really helps you understand not just the victim and the environment that she's in, but also a lot about the times - how someone would have been impacted by what they are or are not told. The fallout from the rape is excruciating - you can only hope that it won't happen to Ursula again in the next life.
Woolgar really has a lovely reading voice and it's appropriate to the timing of the book, which is primarily early to mid 1900s. She also does an excellent job of distinguishing different characters and of doing male voices in a way that's seamless.
This is the kind of book you need a break from. The story is relentless. It's very stressful to be constantly waiting for a character to die, but at the same time, be invested in her getting the opportunity to live her life perfectly. I looked forward to getting back to this story, but I definitely needed some breathers!
The story structure.
The narrator was the perfect voice for the story and character, and a delight to listen to.
The heroine of the story, as her decisions and motivations would make for great conversation. However, I think her father would also be a delightful dinner partner.
What if you could live your life all over again? Turn a different corner, change one small thing, and everything would have been better.........or would it? Would we just encounter different sorrows or challenges, would the overall outcome be just the same?. Sometimes life is just so random and for all our planning, chance still has a powerful role to play. This is Kate Atkinson at her very best, cleverly and brilliantly written, and set during a fascinating period of history. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, I will definitely be listening to this book again!
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