Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonLife After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life

byKate Atkinson

Paperback | January 7, 2014

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"Is there Life After Life, chance after chance to rewrite one's destiny? That is the question posed by Atkinson's tale and brought to life by the miracle of her talent." --Toronto Star
     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. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
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...
Title:Life After LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 8 × 5.3 × 1.1 inPublished:January 7, 2014Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385671393

ISBN - 13:9780385671392

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting premise I thought the concept of the story was interesting and the author kept it suspenseful. It's a longer read and there were times where the novel got repetitive.
Date published: 2018-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! I really enjoyed this book. Atkinson's writing is excellent and the storyline engaging and unique compared with other books I've read.
Date published: 2018-07-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very different After a few chapters, I gave up on this book. Quite sad. I found death to be the main focus, rather than enlightenment.
Date published: 2018-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful Mix of History and Fantasy Life after life is history told through the voice of fantasy. I've never read a book like this before but that may be part and parcel of Atkinson's quirkiness. Ursula Todd is the main character who whenever she dies is also reborn and has the knowledge to go back and change or prevent some incidents. The novel opens with her solution to Adolf Hitler. A good read; a very different read!
Date published: 2018-03-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing #plumreview After all of the hype, I expected to love this book. I found that it dragged and I had trouble finishing it.
Date published: 2017-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeous mix of history and fantasy The perfect ambiguous ending, a most interesting sense of tension, and a lovely main character who sticks with you. It took me four years to get to this book, but it was worth the wait. So good.
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful and full of wonder Fascinating story, interesting concept. Normally, I would have thought a book like this dragged on too long -- but the writing style was so exemplary that I never felt bored. Great book.
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Hated it! Worst book I have ever read.
Date published: 2017-09-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Could have been better The concept was intriguing but the story was somewhat hard to keep straight and the book was too long.
Date published: 2017-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it I liked this story. I did not find it too long as the characters were interesting and engaging. I could have kept going with this ine
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sublime Absolutely loved this book. Kate Atkinson writes so beautifully. The story can be confusing for some, as it's told by a woman who keeps being re-born, given another opportunity to change her & her family's history.
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Imaginative and confident Loved it. Kate Atkinson writes so imaginatively, with such confidence, that following the twists of the story feels like a real adventure. Her characters seem to really inhabit the time and place they live in - unlike so many novels that feel like cardboard characters have been inserted into a history text or tourist's guide.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Nice Read I thought the idea of this book was really interesting - a life re-lived over and over again with different outcomes. Sometimes I found the plot to be really engaging and I wanted to know what would happen next. Other times I found the plot to drag, and the repeated "lives" to be a little too repetitive. Overall, however, Life After Life is really well written, so even if you find some parts slow, the writing makes up for it. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story - Kate Atkinson seems to be a good story teller - with an original idea. A nice read to enjoy while relaxing.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All time Favorite Love this book so much, I recommend it everyone I meet!!!
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites! This book is such an interesting read! It's the kind of book that you will be thinking about long after it's done.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book It is a longer book and sometimes it feels that way. But overall I really enjoyed the read and the story line is unlike anything else I've read
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Beautiful writing, gripping story
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best Loved it! Read it for book club and it initiated great conversation. This is a book I will re read for sure!
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from really dull I really don't understand how can anybody can give good reviews to this book, it is so dull and boring, it's like for the boring housewife type.
Date published: 2016-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best thing I've read in ages! I loved, loved, loved this book. I thought it might be boringly groundhog-ish. I notice other readers disliked the "repetition" but I was fascinated by the way she explores the many ways a life could turn out completely differently if someone simply went right instead of left, decided to stand up to someone instead of backing down, or didn't - to me it gave the lie to "everything happens for a reason" and showed life as a complex web of unforeseeable opportunities and consequences. I plan to re-read it, something I hardly ever do, to try to figure out how she did it.
Date published: 2015-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed it Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors because you can't 'sleepwalk' through her books...she keeps you alert with interesting characters and storylines. I was prepared for Ursula's alternate endings before I started reading the book, which probably helped me enjoy it. If you just focus on each 'story-let' you will enjoy Atkinson's writing which is quite funny (I find that she captures the world and minds of children really well...I recommend that you read 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum'...Ruby Lennox is one of Atkinson's best characters).
Date published: 2015-06-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Strange! Not what I had expected. A lot of repetition.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Went on too long I loved the concept of this book, one life lived over and over again. In reality, it got a bit monotonous when I knew that each segment of Ursula Todd's life would end in her death and rebirth. No surprise there, but it became a matter of wanting the little stories to hurry up so I could get to the details of how her life would end this time. It's a game that I'm sure many of us play at various times. What if I had done this instead of that. What if I'd gotten off the highway one stop sooner, had left for work five minutes earlier, had gone to a different university. Some of them are small, seeming inconsequential choices, and others are huge. Author Kate Atkinson makes it interesting to consider the impact of these choices, such as turning one way on a street moments before a bomb is dropped. Playing the game captures my interest for a few minutes, but if it stretches on too long, I get lost in the possibilities, that's what happened in this book. The same person reborn again and again, got boring, too much of the same thing. I lost my attachment and concern for Ursula. The main character, Ursula Todd, was born in late 1910 and experienced World War One and World War Two many times. Her perspective of the war from differing sides was quite illuminating. I have read several of Ms. Atkinson's books from the Jackson Brodie Series and would highly recommend them.
Date published: 2014-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting but too long. The idea is good and the author keeps this in mind for most of the book but from the pages 300 to 400 it gets long and she seems to forget the idea of dying.  It's more of a long story after a while.  At the end, the author seems to remember the original idea and comes back to it in a way.  It is well written and has many turns in the phrasing which is very funny in the British sort of way. Not a bad book but should have been edited by 100 pages.
Date published: 2014-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Contemplative storyline If you could have a chance to live your life over and over, what would you choose to keep the same and what would you choose to change?  Would you choose to make a difference to the whole world or would you want to make a small change in your world?  Ursula gets to find this out as she lives over and over, making more intelligent choices in her life as she follows her heart in deja vu.  While some characters seem trite or one dimensional, the sentiment was not.  Ultimately it may seem a slog to figure out what is happening, but this book is absolutely worth the journey.
Date published: 2014-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this author This is a departure from the Jackson Brodie series, but I liked it just as much. It is both fun and tragic to follow Ursula through her many lives, and it's a reminder how significant a seemingly minor life decision can turn out to be. I found the descriptions of living in a war zone very real and very moving. I couldn't put this book down, but didn't want it to end.
Date published: 2014-01-07

Read from the Book

November 1930A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the café. She had come in from the rain and drops of water still trembled like delicate dew on the fur coats of some of the women inside. A regiment of white-aproned waiters rushed around at tempo, serving the needs of the Münchner at leisure – coffee, cake and gossip.He was at a table at the far end of the room, surrounded by the usual cohorts and toadies. There was a woman she had never seen before – a permed, platinum blonde with heavy make-up – an actress by the look of her. The blonde lit a cigarette, making a phallic performance out of it. Everyone knew that he preferred his women demure and wholesome, Bavarian preferably. All those dirndls and knee-socks, God help us.The table was laden. Bienenstich, Gugelhupf, Käsekuchen. He was eating a slice of Kirschtorte. He loved his cakes. No wonder he looked so pasty, she was surprised he wasn’t diabetic. The softly repellent body (she imagined pastry) beneath the clothes, never exposed to public view. Not a manly man. He smiled when he caught sight of her and half rose, saying, ‘Guten Tag, gnädiges Fräulein,’ indicating the chair next to him. The bootlicker who was currently occupying it jumped up and moved away.‘Unsere Englische Freundin,’ he said to the blonde, who blew cigarette smoke out slowly and examined her without any interest before eventually saying, ‘Guten Tag.’ A Berliner.She placed her handbag, heavy with its cargo, on the floor next to her chair and ordered Schokolade. He insisted that she try the Pflaumen Streusel.‘Es regnet,’ she said by way of conversation. ‘It’s raining.’‘Yes, it’s raining,’ he said with a heavy accent. He laughed, pleased at his attempt. Everyone else at the table laughed as well. ‘Bravo,’ someone said. ‘Sehr gutes Englisch.’ He was in a good mood, tapping the back of his index finger against his lips with an amused smile as if he was listening to a tune in his head.The Streusel was delicious.‘Entschuldigung,’ she murmured, reaching down into her bag and delving for a handkerchief. Lace corners, monogrammed with her initials, ‘UBT’ – a birthday present from Pammy. She dabbed politely at the Streusel flakes on her lips and then bent down again to put the handkerchief back in her bag and retrieve the weighty object nesting there. Her father’s old service revolver from the Great War, a Webley Mark V.A move rehearsed a hundred times. One shot. Swiftness was all, yet there was a moment, a bubble suspended in time after she had drawn the gun and levelled it at his heart when everything seemed to stop.‘Führer,’ she said, breaking the spell. ‘Für Sie.’Around the table guns were jerked from holsters and pointed at her.One breath. One shot.Ursula pulled the trigger.Darkness fell.

Bookclub Guide

1. In the epigraph, Kate Atkinson quotes Edward Beresford Todd (Teddy): ‘What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’ Do you agree that the chance to live life over and over, as Ursula does, would be wonderful? What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of being able to start life again from scratch? 2. Some of the most dramatic scenes in the novel take place during the Blitz. Kate Atkinson has said: ‘If I could choose one period in history to return to, it would be London during that time. I can see that some people might consider that an odd choice but think what an extraordinary experience it would be’. What do you think made World War II and the Blitz such an extraordinary time? And if you could choose any period in history to visit, which would it be? 3. What did you think of the structure of Life After Life? Did you find yourself flicking back to earlier pages as you were reading? What effect do you think the non-linear, circular pattern had on your reading experience? Does it remind you of any other novels you have read? 4. Jackson Brodie, the main character in Kate Atkinson’s four previous novels, once said that things improve but they don’t get better. Can that statement be applied to Life After Life? 5. Ursula experiences a number of different kinds of relationships with men, and a variety of career choices, as she lives the different versions of her life. What do you think these alternate paths in her life say about the choices that were available to women during this period? 6. The one constant in all the different scenarios is that Ursula’s life always begins in a snowstorm. What does snow represent for you throughout the novel? 7. How did you feel when you got to the end of the novel? What do you think about ending the novel with the midwife Mrs. Haddock back in the Blue Lion pub, sipping her hot rum? 8. The Jackson Brodie novels have been characterised by many as crime novels. Some might define Life After Life as a historical novel. Do you think that Kate Atkinson’s writing can and should be classified into any particular fiction genre?

Editorial Reviews

Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award"Don't make the mistake of thinking that the novel itself is anything other than illuminating. . . . The book transcends its subject matter to become a treatise on how to be human. . . . Art is long and life is short, but not too short to treat yourself to the pleasures of Kate Atkinson's prose along the way." --The Globe and Mail"Gripping . . . Breathless. . . . A masterful balancing act. Atkinson keeps the reader . . . constantly on edge, expecting the darkness to fall at any moment. . . . Life After Life is funny, thought-provoking and poignant. It combines the charms of hearth and home with the ravages of wartime. It's a love letter to a certain kind of English life but also as engrossing as a thriller." --Winnipeg Free Press