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 loved this book so much. The characters are likable and realistic, and I found myself rooting for their success immediately.
Very enjoyable voice and inflection.
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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.
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My lack of "full" enjoyment for this book is probably a combination of factors. I'm well-versed in the idea of parallel universes and multiple versions of the same characters thanks to a lifetime of comic books, and I went through this book on the heels of a James Bond novel, which is himself a character with many different incarnations, so that helps to illustrate my mindset. So why read this one? I try to shake things up and read something "literary" every so often because I do enjoy variety. And nothing says variety quite like parallel dimensions. Imagine my disappointment when the potential of parallel universes in a novel like this is limited to the mundane and boring.
That's not to say there isn't something about this book to enjoy. As a character study, this is very well done (within its rather limited scope), until you get towards the end, at which point it disintegrates into nonsense because the author clearly hasn't read enough comic books to help her solidify what this idea might be about. High concept is one thing, but if you can't express your idea fully, regardless of medium, the idea comes across as rather pointless. This book is probably for those who aren't immersed in the fantastical and rather gimmicky nature of whatever it is the author is attempting to explore.
On those lines, I feel like the author is trying to say that this potential for all of us to have multiple versions of ourselves exist, but there is only one version that is "perfect." I find that to be extremely cynical and depressing. It's pretentious. And if I'm misinterpreting that, then Ms. Atkinson has my apologies.
For me, the shining point of this book is the writing style. Atkinson's prose is lyrical and enjoyable, but it just feels like the most beautiful voice in the world is singing the phone book. The very nature of the story is that it could go quite literally anywhere, and it goes to a great many versions of nowhere instead. This is made worse by the fact that our multiverse protagonist shoots Hitler in the opening scene. After a promising start like that, you'd think there would be something incredible in there. I didn't expect this to be an action novel, but I expected more variety from the concept. Instead, it's shades of bleh. What a letdown.
Such a Good Story. A note, I tend to listen while engaged in other activities - painting, laundry... For me, this story took a bit to settle in to, took more concentration in Audible form than it might have in print. It was because it takes a bit to recognize the story shifts. But once you understand that - peas and carrots.
This book is amazing. Excellent performance by Fenella Woolgar, though her rendition of Rock-A-Bye Baby confuses me (either she's never heard it before or we sing it differently in the States, I suppose either is possible). Since I'd already read the book, I was able to pick up little details I'd forgotten the first time around; it has endless rereading/relistening value. I would take it with me to a deserted island. Highly recommend.
This book by its nature took a long time to develop, but i feel like it was more then worth it. By the end I was totally in love with a number of characters and crying like a baby.
This story was written beautifully. It's a story that shows an incredible connection between the smallest actions to the biggest events. I was invested from the very beginning.
I'm a fan of Kate Atkinson, but if there were another book written with this type of story line, I wouldn't buy it. The Narrator was great, giving voices to the characters that aged as they did. It was astounding how she pulled that off.
I've read or listened to everything she's written that I could get my hands on and I'm always watching for her new releases.
There really wasn't any that stick out. This is the kind of story where the only memory I'll have of it will be how disappointed I was in spending time slogging through it.
Pretty much all of it except the last hour or so, which would have made a tolerable short story.
Reading the story summary, I was hesitant to spend a credit on it, but reading all the positive reviews convinced it it would be worth it. It wasn't. I wouldn't say it was a complete waste of time, because I liked the characters and I did get a sense of knowing them. For me, it wasn't enough though, to sustain any positive connection with the book. The ending was a blessing, because it was finally over - however, it left me feeling hollow. But then - I guess, with a story based on circular/parallel story lines of rebirth & countless deaths -- an ending that tied up loose ends shouldn't have been expected.
Overall a really excellent book that I very much enjoyed. I thought the narration performance in this book was better than any other audible book I've heard so far.
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