Reading Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a genuine investment. It’s by no means a short book, but a journey that you have to take from start to finish. I’ll be honest in that I considered ending the journey at times – parts of the book are repetitive and you are never quite sure where it will go – but there is certainly enough in it to buoy you along.
The concept is a clever one – what if you could (or had to) live your life over and over and over again until perhaps, you got something right?
Ursula Todd is such a person. Born in 1910 (countless times), each time she dies she begins over again, and often with an inkling of knowledge of what lies ahead. This saves her from making some of the same mistakes as she goes through. However, she cannot escape World War II, and dies horribly in the Blitz over and over again. This is truly an examination of life through this century – and as Ursula lives and relives it we see so many experiences that people must have had.
Her adventures take her into the heart of the war office, into the German countryside amongst the enemy and into the rubble of London. Over and over she watches people she loves die, as so many characters features so prominently in many of her lives.
This is worthwhile if you are willing to give it the time. The childhood years – where Ursula dies as a child are interesting alone, and while the years spent dying in the Blitz are hard, they take an interesting turn if you persevere. It will make you wonder what you would do in Ursula’s position, if you had it to live all over again.