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Book Review: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson


Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

This is an ambitious book that challenges our perception of time, fate and free will. Ursula Todd is born on a cold and snowy night in 1910. She dies before she can draw her first breath. But then on the same cold and snowy night she is born again and this time she cries and embarks on her life – only to die at various times over and over. But Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives gives her the power to get her life right. Or does it? This is a bold and imaginative book that has Ursula experiencing a number of different lives up to the Great War, and then up to the Second World War and beyond – the Blitz sequences of the novel are particularly moving. I liked that fact that sometimes she almost repeated a previous life’s experience, but other times her experience was wildly different. Each time, even the smallest choices can change Ursula’s life profoundly – a little like real life when we look back with hindsight. This is a bittersweet, witty and thought-provoking read. Each version of Ursula’s lives are moving and credible with an engaging cast of characters. This is masterful and captivating storytelling.

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