Life After Life

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Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

Doubleday Canada | April 2, 2013 | Hardcover

Life After Life is rated 3.1667 out of 5 by 6.
Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
      What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
     During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
     During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
     What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
     Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life''s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 480 pages, 9.3 × 6.6 × 1.2 in

Published: April 2, 2013

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385671377

ISBN - 13: 9780385671378

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling Story I was impressed with this novel -- and will seek out other books by Kate Atkinson. The protagonist is sympathetic and memorable, the work's premise is intriguing, and the prose is very accessible. A wonderful read.
Date published: 2014-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Life After Life Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wonder how my life would be different now if . . . "? Has an inexplicable intuition ever led you away from danger? Have you ever said, "If I had my life to live over, I would . . .". Those are common human thoughts and experiences. Most, if not all, of us have thought them or felt them. Kate Atkinson builds her story, Life After Life, upon the tug of those universal emotions. Her main character, Ursula Todd, lives and re-lives her life in a notable time. She navigates and re-navigates her way through family tensions, relationship struggles and war. Like the movie, Groundhog Day, the narrative arc needs to be handled deftly to avoid becoming a confusing, disjointed disaster. Atkinson unfolds the plot evenly and links us back to characters, so we don't feel lost. She drops in teasing hints of lives to come to keep readers engaged. She allows her characters to make mistakes and suffer setbacks. Just when that begins to feel a little discouraging, her characters savour small victories. I liked that Atkinson writes of the horrors of the Second World War, from both the German and the British points of view, with brutal clarity. I liked that Atkinson has her characters react to differing circumstances—an excellent way to build complex characters. I like the existential premise of the story. Generally, I liked her plotting, but the story would have been much more satisfying if it had built to a clear, positive outcome. I found the ending very unsatisfying. Unlike Groundhog Day (which is my favourite movie of all time, and one I believe to be seriously under-appreciated, by the way), I was not left with the feeling that the main character had evolved in a significant way, but rather that eventually she stumbled upon one slightly better outcome. I was not left with the feeling that the characters had developed more compassion, or humility, or ability to relate to other human beings. Worst of all, I was left with the feeling that it wasn't the end, and that this cycle would carry on indefinitely. What a feeling of futility! This book is entertaining, though-provoking and well-written. I'd recommend reading it, and when you get to the end, in your imagination wrap it up the way you would have it.
Date published: 2014-02-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A disappointing read.... I started reading this book with great enthusiasm and expectation because of the much hype and overrating that engulfed this book..But I was totally disappointed as the story moved..... This novel centres around a girl named Ursulla who is born in England and dies before she draws her first breath. But then she is born again and gets several chances of reliving her life after every demise... The concept of reincarnation & fate did impress me but as Ursulla journeyed her path into several lives, somehow I didn't derive much enthusiasm & grip and felt vey much detached from the characters.. The story goes back and forth to the past and present so rapidly that it was very difficult to find attachment, sympathy and compassion to the girl Ursulla and the characters surronding her life... But then I should admit that I enjoyed Kate Atkinson's style of writing and thats the only reason that kept me holding on to this book until the end. Overall, Life after Life was a very disappointing read for me.
Date published: 2013-06-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing Ending Although it was an interesting concept and beautifully written, I really felt let down in the end. It could have ended at any point in the book and basically made no difference. Honestly, I don't mind happy endings or sad ones, but I do like some kind of conclusion (and yes, I understand what the author was getting at regarding cyclical continuity but still...). I haven't read any of Kate Atkinson's other books but I am tempted to. She does manage to evoke some wonderful imagery and insight into the past with Life After Life, and I wish she had continued more of the witty elements that seemed to be concentrated at the beginning of the book. It started to feel more like hard work as it went on, with little relief. Overall, it was an unusual book and I guess many people will find it worth a read. I just feel it could have been so much better.
Date published: 2013-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant I think Kate Atkinson is a brilliant writer. Her Jackson Brodie detective books are a favourite series. With her latest release Life After Life, she takes things in a different direction..... Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night in February 1910. And dies the same night. And is born again. And dies again. Over and over. But each 'life' is a little different. Different choices, different choices and directions taken each time change the course of not just Ursula's life, but of those around her and those whose lives she touches. At first she is not aware of these incarnations, but as they repeat... "...and sometimes, too, she knew what someone was about to say before they said it or what mundane incident was about to occur - if a dish was about to be dropped or an apple thrown through a glasshouse, as if these things had happened many times before. Words and phrases echoed themselves, strangers seemed like old acquaintances." Atkinson starts us off slowly, with small changes and subtle alterations to the timeline. Each time though, Ursula lives a little longer and the path is altered. I loved the back and forth story telling. Each time I wondered what would change next. As I read, I often wondered what would I have changed? Can Ursula truly change the course of her life every time? And is every change for the better? Better for her or better for others? What about changing the course of history? Atkinson takes her tale through the war years many times - all again with many different outcomes. This part of the book was brilliant - the details and the settings crackle with authenticity and lent this tumultuous time a very personal and real view. The Blitz came to life for me with Atkinson's telling. Ursula is a wonderful character - human, flawed, funny, pragmatic and wonderfully drawn. The Todd household is made up of just as many fascinating personalities. I was particularly drawn to Ursula's brother Teddy and her father Hugh. Again, the amount of detail woven in and around these lives is captivating. But small, seemingly insignificant details are the things that don't seem to change from life to life - a little black cat brooch with a rhinestone for an eye, a dog's name, a picture on a wall - just their context in the story. Life After Life is brilliant on so many levels - the story, the characters and the exploration of family, fate and destiny. I initially raced through the first few chapters and then stepped back to slowly take my time finishing Life After Life. It was just too good to finish quickly and I enjoyed stopping after the snow falls (the end of Ursula's current life) to ponder what had happened and imagine where Atkinson might go next. And I was never able to guess right. There are turns I didn't see coming, changes I didn't like, passages that left me breathless and above all - stories to be savoured. Which one is the final ending? Who knows? Deliciously, Atkinson leaves that up to our own imagination. "No point in thinking, you just have to get on with life. We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try." "What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?" .....what if?.....
Date published: 2013-05-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Maybe it's just me By all accounts I should like this book, right? Every review I've seen for this book was either raving about how great it was or how beautifully written it was. Maybe I was just expecting too much because of all the hype because I just couldn't like this book. i found that I just didn't care about the characters. The story jumped back and forth so quickly and randomly that it didn't give me a chance to like them. When I first heard about the book's premise I was excited to see where Kate Atkinson would take it. Unfortunately, the journey this story took was uninspiring and without any clear direction. I gave up at around page 120 because I just wasn't interested. I may be the only one with a negative review but it's how i felt.
Date published: 2013-04-13

– More About This Product –

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 480 pages, 9.3 × 6.6 × 1.2 in

Published: April 2, 2013

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385671377

ISBN - 13: 9780385671378

From the Publisher

Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
      What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
     During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
     During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
     What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
     Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life''s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past.

About the Author

KATE ATKINSON won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed international author ever since. Her most recent four bestsellers featured the former private detective Jackson Brodie: Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog. She was appointed an MBE in the 2011 Queen''s Birthday Honours List.

Editorial Reviews

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction "There aren''t enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life : Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: it''s one of the best novels I’ve read this century." —Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects    “Think of Audrey Niffenegger''s The Time Traveler''s Wife or David Nicholl''s One Day . . . . . [or] Martin Amis''s Times Arrow. . . . Life After Life should have the popular success of the former and deserves to win prizes, too. Atkinson has done something highly unusual, boldly beginning afresh. . . . [Atkinson] sets herself an audacious premise and the most ambitious sweep of our modern history, and absolutely nails it on every count. It both pleases the crowd and feeds the soul, in the spirit of the grand masters.” — The Times (UK)   “In a lesser writer’s hands, a novel that revisits its main character’s birth 12 times would likely be tiresome, but each revision is fresh, often funny, and filled with new life in more ways than one. Atkinson tackles a mystical theme in Life After Life , but she is at heart a realist.” — Maclean’s “Merging family saga with a fluid sense of time and an extraordinarily vivid sense of history at its most human level. A dizzying and dazzling tour de force.” — Daily Mail “Brilliant . . . more
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