Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

                                                    Life After Life

Hardback: 477 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
 Doubleday 2013
Source: Tywyn Library, Wales.
First Sentences: 'A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the cafe. 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.'

Review Quote:  
"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, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author

Favourite Quote:  “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.”
Literary Awards: Women's Prize for Fiction Nominee for Shortlist (2013)
My OpinionA fascinating read but one that takes a great deal of concentration if one is going to fully appreciate the story

The previous novels that I have read by Kate Atkinson 'Case Histories' 'One Good Turn' and When Will There Be Good News' have all been part of a series of novels featuring a former private detective.

'Life After Life' was therefore somewhat of a surprise as it was only when I picked up the copy in the library and read the blurb, that I discovered it was a narrative about parallel-lives.

A fascinating read but one that takes a great deal of concentration if one is going to fully appreciate the story as the female protagonist Ursula Todd keeps dying and being reborn. When the novel commences it is February 1910 and Ursula is about to be born for the first time, surviving just a few days before dying. Every time Ursula is reincarnated it is into the exact same life but each time she lives a little longer. Her many but one life is set in an era of havoc in Europe and the author has written some stirring descriptive passages particularly those scenes set in London during the Blitz, which I found particularly harrowing.
This novel made me think just how those ordinary things that happen in one's everyday life could so easily have dire and dramatic consequences, depending on the many decisions you make daily. It is these decisions and what happens that are cleverly shown in the storyline as Ursula's life progresses.

This is an emotional but rewarding read as you are drawn into the same events whether world events or ones within her family as she gets yet another chance again and again. Reincarnation is an interesting and fascinating concept but I am not sure about the opportunity to relive one life again and again.What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?  What do you think?

 'Life After Life' will certainly provide you with food for thought!

'Life After Life' Doubleday Book Trailer

Author Profile

Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson was born in York on January 01, 1951, she now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum', won the Whitbread(now Costa) Book of the Year Award. Since then has been a critically acclaimed international best selling author and in 2011 she was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Kate Atkinson is probably best known for her Jackson Brodie series of novels. Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster. 

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early,Took My Dog.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing. 

Goodreads Author Profile   Kate Atkinson - Official Website    Facebook Page 
 Amazon Author Profile     YouTube - Kate Atkinson - Life After Life

Linking up today with Literary Friday


  1. Very nice review...captures the experience! As i read it I wasn't sure if I really liked it or not, but once I got into the rhythm of the various times and stories, it held my attention. And isn't that a judge of a good writer! I also was struck with one decision or one minute can change the outcome of a life. Have you ever seen the movie, "Sliding Doors?" Reminded me of that a bit.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments Patricia, it seems we had similar thoughts about this one. Yes I have seen the film and I see what you mean.

  2. Good review as always. There are so many books waiting to be read - not sure that I will go with this one. I did read Started Early, Took My Dog for a book club read.

    1. It does take a lot of concentration and I understand your uncertainty.

  3. Such a wonderful review, Linda. I actually have this book upstairs in my library, and I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I bought it at my very favorite Indie book store in FLorida, Sundog Books. :D I will definitely read it now.

    One of my favorite Southern writers also published a book this year with the same title (Jill McCorkle) and I've read fantastic reviews about it. I want to read it, too, as I've read most of her books and I'm always delighted by them.

    Thanks so much for linking-up to Literary Friday!

    Ricki Jill

    1. What a coincidence that two books with the same title have been published this year. It will be interesting to read your comparisons of them.

  4. I'd never heard of this one, and it sounds intense but I love the concept. Thanks!

    1. It was very intense Beth and a difficult concept (the repetitive part) to get the brain to think about.

  5. You made a very comprehensive review Lindy! I have always been fascinated by reincarnation. I grew up in a Catholic environment so more often than not, this is not something the elders encourage to discuss. Although the interested kid in me can never be suppressed :) The last book I read that relates a similar story about reincarnation is David Levithan's Everyday. Reincarnation may not be a concept accepted by everyone. However, I love the way authors play and intertwine the concept to a one great story.

    Thank for the nice comments you left in my blog. Have a great week!

    1. Thankyou Diane. I agree that regardless of the religious views, reincarnation is a fascinating concept.

  6. The book started off slow and confusing for me, but I stuck with it and I am sooo glad I did. Once I understood the back and forth of the book with all its characters, I was addicted. I absolutely loved the history of the book and couldn't wait to see Ursula's next life and how she would change the events. I was sad that it ended, but I'm almost always sad for a book to end :)
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    1. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on Life After Life, although I wonder if it just because you have included a link to your own website. :)

  7. Atkinson shows us the personal side of life around WW 2. You feel like you are living through it yourself, and the characters are so interesting, esp. with her going back and forth in time -- it really keeps the suspense high. Ursula (heroine) was such an interesting character, I miss spending time with her in my mind while reading "Life After Life". Thanks for the great read!!
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    1. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on Life After Life, although I wonder if it is just because you have included a link to your own website? :)


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