Monday, October 20, 2014

Book review: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

This book scared me. I heard great things about it, but I saw the length (544 pages) and heard the set up, and it put me off. So in this book, Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night in England in 1910. And then she dies. And then the book starts over and Ursula is again born on a snowy night in England in 1910. That time she lives to be about three but then dies in an accident at the beach. Then she is born on a snowy night in 1910.

See, that's weird. That's not how books work. Is it reincarnation? Not exactly, because time goes back to the beginning too. It's more like a loop in time. And each time, things are slightly different. Sometimes things turn out better, sometimes worse, but each time when it reaches the end, it begins again. Sometimes Ursula is living in pre-WWII Germany. Sometimes she is living in bombed-out London. Sometimes she is married. Sometimes she is not. Sometimes she seems like she could change history.

I really enjoyed this novel. I enjoyed the inventiveness of it. I like Ursula's quiet, British-stiff-upper-lip determination that sees her through even the more unpleasant futures. I like how it made me think about life choices and how something small can mean a huge change, and how something that seems like a good choice can lead to a bad outcome, and that we shouldn't put values like "good" and "bad on decisions, because they're just hinges that open doors, but they're not what is behind the door.

“What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?” Hm. Ms. Atkinson does a great job of making me think.

I bought this book at Barnes & Noble.

No comments: