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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 (1610 )
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Performance
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  •  
    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
  •  
    Janet Finn AZ 03-02-14
    Janet Finn AZ 03-02-14
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    "Lost in Translation"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


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

    Make the time line more evident.


    What aspect of Fenella Woolgar’s performance would you have changed?

    Nothing.


    Was Life After Life worth the listening time?

    NO.


    Any additional comments?

    I gave up in on this audio book

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D United States 01-16-14
    D United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting but a bit Meandering"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen Carthage, NY, United States 12-23-13
    colleen Carthage, NY, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2015
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    "If you like Virginia Woolf . . ."
    What made the experience of listening to Life After Life the most enjoyable?

    The tone of the story is so subtly emotional; it's beautiful in a way that is not sentimental or overwrought.


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

    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.


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

    The awful Maurice was so well done, as was the heroine, Ursula.


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

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Buster Los Angeles, CA USA 11-27-13
    Tina Buster Los Angeles, CA USA 11-27-13 Member Since 2015
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    Story
    "Good story, performed well"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Addicted to Books Marietta, GA United States 11-05-13
    Addicted to Books Marietta, GA United States 11-05-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Wonderful narration"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 10-25-13
    Stephanie ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 10-25-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Best narrator ever"
    What did you love best about Life After Life?

    Kate Atkinson's brilliant writing, though it ties with Fenella Woolgar's equally brilliant narration.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the character-building is deepened, not cheapened, by the repeated lives.


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

    Ursula, the protagonist; though she performs them all well.


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

    The scenes of the abusive marriage were difficult to listen to. I was glad when that life was over.


    Any additional comments?

    Woolgar's is the best audiobook performance I've come across to date.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarena Garrison, NY, United States 10-22-13
    Sarena Garrison, NY, United States 10-22-13 Member Since 2014

    I'm the author of the book "Bronx DA" and an attorney.

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    "Beautifully Written, Interesting, STRESSFUL story"
    What made the experience of listening to Life After Life the most enjoyable?

    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.


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

    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.


    What does Fenella Woolgar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


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

    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!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V. Takach San Francisco, CA 10-14-13
    V. Takach San Francisco, CA 10-14-13 Member Since 2015
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    "My new favorite novel"
    What made the experience of listening to Life After Life the most enjoyable?

    The story structure.


    What does Fenella Woolgar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator was the perfect voice for the story and character, and a delight to listen to.


    If you could take any character from Life After Life out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Plainfield, VT, United States 09-22-13
    Rebecca Plainfield, VT, United States 09-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great listen, a brilliant book"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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