LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson is a breathtaking (literally) book that chronicles the many versions of life experienced by Ursula Todd and anyone in her orbit. Born in the midst of snowstorm in 1910, Ursula almost dies at birth–and then she does die many more times over the decades that follow. I don’t think I’m giving away anything by telling you that Ursula has to try a lot of different paths before we can get to the end of things.
Ursula’s lives cover some of the more interesting and traumatizing moments in history, but Atkinson does a terrific job of showing that it’s the more everyday happenings–family vacations and sixteenth birthdays, for example–that change the course(s) of Ursula’s life (after life).
When I asked my sister what she thought about the book, she said that she really liked it–until the end. And I have to agree with that simple breakdown of LIFE AFTER LIFE. This is a book worth reading. The writing will cause you to catch your breath, sit on the edge of your seat, and flip pages quickly to see what comes next. And even if the ending disappoints you (and I agree with Sherry’s assessment–it did disappoint me), I doubt you’ll regret reading the 450 pages that come before that ending. LIFE AFTER LIFE is brilliant in so many ways, and Ursula is a character I enjoyed, admired, and loved. I’ll think about her a lot, and I’ll consider the potential of all of our lives as we navigate crossroads that seem both big and small as we make our choices.
This book was exhausting in the best way. I can’t wait to talk about it in person with my sister, and anyone else who would like to discuss it with me.