Thursday, 6 March 2014

Reading Life After Life

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is sold with the promise of an exciting tale about a girl who gets an infinite number of chances to relive her life. And it doesn't disappoint. Ursula is born in 1910 on a snowy night (over and over) and grows up (over and over) in the shadow of WWI and later, WWII. Each time she dies she has a second chance to correct her mistakes in her next life whether it is in her family home Fox Corner, London or even Berlin. Kate Atkinson writes that the book is about being English but I think it's also about what it's like to live in that lost time between the two wars.

Life After Life is such an interesting concept of infinite reincarnation but we're not offered any explanations, ever. It's just an idea presented and the reader is forced to accept it. Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable to read and Ursula is the type of character that I love. Strong, intelligent and a little bit odd. I loved her family too and the way they developed through the book (and the different lives). I was particularly fascinated by Sylvie who I originally loved but who grew colder for every war that she survived. (Do Ursula's family feel an effect of Ursula's constant reliving life?) You'd think reading a book where the main character constantly dies would get tedious, but it doesn't. The descriptions of London during war-time are fascinating (and so are the ones of Berlin). If I have one criticism, it's the ending. I don't want to spoil anything but for anyone who's read the book - yes, I should have seen it coming but it was still a little bit unsatisfactory. For anyone who hasn't read the book, just go read it now alright?!

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