Kate Atkinson’s LIFE AFTER LIFE

9780552776639This is such an amazing book. An absolute masterpiece of storytelling and writing. The story at first it is quite disconcerting, one life lived over and over again. But the more you read the more amazing it becomes.

The novel follows the lives of Ursula Todd, begun on a winter’s night in 1910. Ursula’s lives are sometimes short and sometimes long. They are happy and they are sad. They can be tragic and they can be profound. They are lived against a backdrop of great change and turmoil, including two World Wars, all of which have a huge bearing on Ursula’s lives. And when they come to an end, they begin again.

Ursula is not consciously aware of her many lives but sometimes her subconscious intervenes. Other times it is the actions of others that set in train new tangents and open up different possibilities. Small changes have big consequences and vice versa. And while some events seem unavoidable others are simply missed or lost. The more lives Ursula leads the more a residual memory remains, latent but with the occasional bubble escaping to the surface. Some of these bubbles are just for the reader while others have an influence on the choices Ursula makes and the direction in which her life leads. Each permutation of Ursula’s life is fascinating and enthralling and becomes richer and more intriguing the more paths Ursula’s lives takes us down.

The way Kate Atkinson tells the story also means you get to know the book’s characters more intimately and completely than normally possible. You get to see and know Ursula, her family and friends, in many guises and see how they cope and react to various circumstances. Their true natures are brought forth, tested and explored. And they become familiar and important in many divergent ways.

Atkinson beautifully captures and renders the infinite possibilities a human life can take in a way that is dazzling original, wildly imaginative and brilliantly inventive. I am in total awe of this book.

ISBN: 9780385618687
ISBN-10: 0385618689
Classification: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x 33mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 14-Mar-2013
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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