Regular price: $28.50

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,480
  • 4 Stars
    1,036
  • 3 Stars
    648
  • 2 Stars
    215
  • 1 Stars
    142

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,889
  • 4 Stars
    816
  • 3 Stars
    312
  • 2 Stars
    79
  • 1 Stars
    66

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,307
  • 4 Stars
    889
  • 3 Stars
    573
  • 2 Stars
    241
  • 1 Stars
    162
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Gail
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 04-20-13

Moments of Great Writing Yet Utter Failure

As I entered the book, almost immediately I drew in my breath in a gasp at the beauty of the writing, the narration...knew that I was in the hands of a fine literary artist and was ready for a momentous ride. From the title one knows that the main character, Ursula, will die often so I was not emotionally harmed by her multiple sudden deaths but set my mind to watch how her life "repeats" related or built to the point where she "gets it right"...and what the author's vision of getting it right would be. Unfortunately after the flow and glow of her first 8 or so life repeats, to me, the book totally loses focus and gets tedious. Still, I plunged on trusting that no matter how boring, the author was leading to a point..any point that might be interesting and even hoped for a little moment of awe. The reader knows there will be a critical scene with Hitler from the get go. It takes forever to get back to that moment of choice...gets there then ends as though it never happened. Huh? Many of the characters know they are repeating their lives to varying degrees, yet nothing interesting is deduced after the reader knows this is happening. Did you think Ursula got it right in the end...the very strange, silly Hollywood ending? Did the end make any sense whatsoever? It is worth a read as it is great writing, you will meet people you like and there are vignettes of the bombing of London that are fabulous, but don't expect any awe and prepare to be disappointed.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fantastic story- engaging from start to finish

What made the experience of listening to Life After Life the most enjoyable?

I loved this book so much. The characters are likable and realistic, and I found myself rooting for their success immediately.

What about Fenella Woolgar’s performance did you like?

Very enjoyable voice and inflection.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Letdown

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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

High Concept, Low Execution

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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Life after Life, ad nauseam

At first, I was drawn into the story, but after repeat , repeat, repeat, it was confusing and simultaneously annoying. If I had had another book waIting, I might have abandoned it and cut my (time) losses, but I thought surely it would all come together. It never did, to my satisfaction, and I was relieved when it finally finished. Usually, I love my Audible books, but not this one.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Beautifully performed, thought provoking read

From heartbreaking to fascinating to redemptive, Ursula's story made me think and think some more about how the little choices we (and the people around us) make every day plot the course of our lives. It made me contemplate how every single life is made up of good and bad and better and worse days and moments. It made me think about the moments in my life when I have felt like I have memories that don't exist from this life but that helped guide my path nonetheless. Beautiful and thought provoking, sometimes exciting and interesting, sometimes slow and repetitive, sometimes disturbing and heartbreaking--all the things my life is (minus all the wonderfully British stuff) wrapped up in this lovely read. P. S. I also especially loved all the interspersed poetry and philosophy that took me back to my college days.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Wonderful story!

It's the kind of story you want to listen to over and over again. The narrator was great as well really giving each character a personality of their own.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jo
  • Martinsville, VA, United States
  • 11-08-17

Repetitive, Boring.

It had an interesting idea for a book but was just so boring that I’m going to stop listening to it now.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Warmy recommended book that makes one reflect

The book reflects on a woman's life and options in the first half of the 20th century Engeland. It also explores the idea of how small choices of pure (bad) luck can drastically change one's life over the idea of reincarnation.

I loved the narration. Fenella Woolgar has this warm rich voice and great pronounciation that made a good book great.

It's not an action book. Often one can see what will be coming, more on less. It's bases on small captivating details. It was sometimes painful to hear the descriptions of the lifes during the world wars. It does make one think and feel though, and reflect on choices made, hope, goodness, evil... etc. I believe that that was the author's intention, not writing a thriller.

I don't agree with reviews that find this audiobook hard to follow. The author plays with time but every time she resets the timeflow, the scene is very well set so one knows exactely when one is. The only times I was confused was Ursula's in er speech was remebering something during a scene. I guess that is unavoidable with audio books.


I did find have some issues with the flow of the book and how the original idea of premonition was not always followed up on. It did not stop me from enjoying the read very much.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great plot!

Really interesting and unusual concept, which made for a tremendously enjoyable book. Narration was terrific as well - highly recommend!