Life After Life
By Kate Atkinson
(Reagan Arthur Books, Hardcover, 9780316176484, April 2013, 544pp.)
The Short of It:
Interesting premise and at times, fluid, beautifully written passages but overall, one of the most frustrating reads I’ve read in years.
The Rest of It:
The story begins in 1930. Ursula Todd assassinates Hitler while he is sitting in a cafe in Munich and she dies in the process. Next, the story takes us back to 1910, the night of Ursula’s birth. Due to bad weather, the doctor is unable to attend her birth and the poor girl dies with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. As Atkinson takes us back and forth through time, we see Ursula in various stages of life. Sometimes, she’s a child and ends up drowning in the ocean, other times…she’s older and as readers, we get to spend a little time with her family before tragedy strikes.
But tragedy does strike and over and over again, at that.
I really had a hard time with this one. The writing itself wasn’t bad. In fact, much of it is beautifully written but I didn’t care for Ursula all that much so seeing her die and come back so many times was a bit much for me. Oh, and it was long, which of course felt even longer with all of the back and forth going on.
The one thing that kept me reading is the idea that one small change can affect your life. That aspect of it was interesting to explore but it was ultimately lost within the structure of the novel itself.
My book club is discussing this book later this week. I’m interested in how the discussion will go because I feel as if I’ve spent so much time with it, that I don’t want to spend more time discussing it.
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.