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Life After Life: A Novel Paperback – January 7, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: Every time Ursula Todd dies, she is born again. Each successive life is an iteration on the last, and we see how Ursula's choices affect her, those around her, and--so boldly--the fate of the 20th-century world. Most impressive is how Kate Atkinson keeps the complexity of her postmodern plotting so nimble. Life After Life approaches the universe in both the micro- and macro sense, balancing the interior lives of Ursula's friends and family with the weight of two World Wars. (How many writers can make domestic drama as compelling as the London Blitz?) Life After Life is an extraordinary feat of narrative ambition, an audacious genre-bender, and a work of literary genius. --Kevin Nguyen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* In a radical departure from her Jackson Brodie mystery series, Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel about Ursula Todd, born in 1910 and doomed to die and be reborn over and over again. She drowns, falls off a roof, and is beaten to death by an abusive husband but is always reborn back into the same loving family, sometimes with the knowledge that allows her to escape past poor decisions, sometimes not. As Atkinson subtly delineates all the pathways a life or a country might take, she also delivers a harrowing set piece on the Blitz as Ursula, working as a warden on a rescue team, encounters horrifying tableaux encompassing mangled bodies and whole families covered in ash, preserved just like the victims of Pompeii. Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to “a fuss.” From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atkinson’s publisher is pulling out all the stops in marketing her latest, which will no doubt draw in many new readers in addition to her Jackson Brodie fans. --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I think we all feel that way to a certain extent. We look back with regret on wasted time, or bad decisions, or tragedies that would have been avoided if only one small detail had been changed.
But here's the thing. Life is linear. Maybe if you believe in reincarnation, you might find some type of sense in Kate Atkinson's writing here, but honestly, my biggest question about this book was, "Why am I so constantly annoyed?"
I realized that when I read, I want to see continuity. I want to connect with characters that evolve realistically. I want them to MATTER. I want to see how things turn out. I want to know who is who. With this story line, nothing like that mattered. "Oh, it'll all change anyway," was my continual thought. Why should I care that Nancy was murdered? Why should I care that Teddy died? Or Ursula, or Pamela, for that matter? While there were parts that were far more interesting than others, the plot lines were never allowed to fully bloom. The one constant seemed to be the parents_ Hugh's unconditional love; and Sylvie's contempt for Ursula, no matter what "life" she was in.
I felt this book was exhausting, needlessly long (the endless parenthetical editorializing was another annoyance - yes, I did that on purpose), impossible to feel empathy toward just about any of the characters (Hugh and Teddy were the exceptions), and confusing. I got tired of starting a "new life story", and then seeing names, saying, "wait, who's that?" And sometimes I totally forgot who someone was from a previous "life." Once I thought, Izzie? Where have I heard that name? Now who is Izzie again? I wasn't engaged enough to care.