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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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1691 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Free528 06-24-14
    Free528 06-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Never wanted it to end"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    I never re-read books or re-listen to them EXCEPT for Bill Bryson and Kate Atkinson. I just may give this one another listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Izzy! I love a crazy Auntie.


    What about Fenella Woolgar’s performance did you like?

    She had a great ability to evoke many different characters.


    Who was the most memorable character of Life After Life and why?

    Ursula was such a compelling character.


    Any additional comments?

    If you liked Behind the Scenes at the Museum, you will especially love this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annissa 06-10-14
    Annissa 06-10-14 Member Since 2012

    I like Doctor Who.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Finally a look into the might-have-beens."

    We often take it for granted that we'll never know what might have been. If only we'd chosen a different path. If only that one thing had never happened. If only that one thing had actually happened... This book lets us see it, and it's interesting, and refreshing, and exciting. We know Ursula is experiencing life after life, but it appears that the people around her are as well. And that thought that everyone is blessed (doomed) to live again and again until they get it right is such a big idea that this book hasn't left me in the six weeks since I finished it.

    I really enjoyed this book. Granted, it took a while to get into because her lives in the beginning were so short. But after an hour or so, as her lives get longer and her choices and the choices of the people around her become more complicated, things get more interesting. What can she change? What can't she change? And are the people around her also experiencing this (for lack of a better word) déjà vu? (I think they are.)

    I found the book surprisingly easy to follow despite the number of times the book jumps around in the timeline, and I was so engrossed in it that paying attention was effortless. Fenella Woolgar narrated it excellently, especially considering all of the languages contained in the book.

    I would highly recommend this book, especially to those interested in what it was like to be a civilian in England or Germany during World War II.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vered 06-10-14
    Vered 06-10-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Sharp and enjoyable"

    This book reminded me of my favorite Kate Atkinson novel -Behind the Scenes at the Museum, but in many aspects Life After Life is even better written and developed.
    As noted by previous reviewers, the book is about a British Woman, nee 1910, that gets to live her life over and over again, while in each round we get to discover more about her family, her surroundings, her emotions.
    The story itself is very well written and creats a very good starting point for readers imagination to run wild,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.S. Valdez FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 06-01-14
    M.S. Valdez FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 06-01-14 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader all of my life! Favorite author is Stephen King! Favorite book is Hyperion-read/listen to it!

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    "Everyone wants this!"

    Everyone wishes they could have done something over again in their life to correct a mistake or make the right choice, or even to see if another choice would have led down a better path in life. Ursula gets that ability in this excellent novel. Ursula is a young girl who gets to do life over and over again until she gets it exactly right. Of course, the ultimate point of the story is whether or not it's possible to get it exactly right or if you are doomed to infinite repetition.
    Very powerful, very emotional.
    Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Henscheid 05-11-14
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    "LIFE AFTER LIFE"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Life After Life to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    THE CHARACTERS WERE VERY INTERESTING


    Which character – as performed by Fenella Woolgar – was your favorite?

    MY FAVORITE WAS URSALA.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    THE PART ABOUT THE WAR.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Simpson 05-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Absolutely, 100% delivered"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    Probably not, but only because I am not that interested in listening to any audiobooks a second time.


    What other book might you compare Life After Life to and why?

    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.


    What about Fenella Woolgar’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DSS Michigan USA 05-07-14
    DSS Michigan USA 05-07-14 Member Since 2013

    DSS

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    "Recommended this for book club"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    This is one of the few books I would listen to again.


    Any additional comments?

    Stick with it. The story is multilayered and wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randyll McDermott Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-23-14
    Randyll McDermott Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-23-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Wonderful story & Amazing reader"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    No, once I have listened/read a story don't typically re-read. I know the ending!


    What did you like best about this story?

    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


    Have you listened to any of Fenella Woolgar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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!


    Who was the most memorable character of Life After Life and why?

    Ursala - again and again she was my favorite.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tanja 03-14-14
    Tanja 03-14-14
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    "An interesting approach to parallel universes?"
    What did you love best about Life After Life?

    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!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Historical references and depictions brought this very much to life.


    Which character – as performed by Fenella Woolgar – was your favorite?

    Izzy


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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...


    Any additional comments?

    A good read. Crisp, clean narration though I am not sure Ms. Woolgar was quite my cup of tea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Knize TUCSON, AZ, US 03-13-14
    David Knize TUCSON, AZ, US 03-13-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tedious beyond belief!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


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

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Fenella Woolgar – was your favorite?

    Ursula


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

    The descriptions of living during the bombing blitz in London was well done.


    Any additional comments?

    Thank goodness in real life we die only once.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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