Sunday, 17 February 2013

Life After Life

I am going to be deliberately vague with this this review of Kate Atkinson's new novel. Life After Life should be discovered and enjoyed by readers for themselves and I am concerned that I may give away too much. This is a book that constantly surprises and changes its course jumping between different times in the protagonists life - or should I say many lives...

The novel begins with the following epigraphs which explain the main idea being explored throughout the story:

'Everything changes and nothing remains still'
Plato, Cratylus

'What if we have a chance to do it again and again,
until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?'
Edward Beresford Todd

Ursula Todd is born at the idyllic Fox Corner on 11th February 1910 during a heavy snowfall. Unfortunately the baby dies. Ursula Todd is then born again on the same date, at the same location and survives. Don't worry all will become clear as you read the novel! Atkinson has created an existence for Ursula, which means whatever happens, she will be born again and again. And depending on her decisions, each life will turn out in different ways, although some situations are just meant to be.

This book is clever, maybe a little too clever. As a new section begins, we are introduced to new characters, who we slowly find out about as Ursula's life at that time is explained. The dialogue is witty and intelligent, I particularly enjoyed Ursula's conversations with her sister Pamela and her mother Sylvie. There are many quotes from literature, history or in European Languages (some, I admit, went over my head) and I would recommend taking the time to read this novel in large chunks to take it all in and fully appreciate it. I unfortunately had to read little snippets when I had the time and sometimes had to read back a bit to remember some parts.

This is a really interesting theme to cover. We are able to shape our own fates depending on our decisions, but sometimes some events are fate. A tiny decision can eventually become a huge one, a small event can be life-changing and sometimes one person can shape history.

I was lucky enough to receive a much sought after copy of Life After Life last year and I can't believe I only started reading it a couple of weeks ago! There is already much buzz on social media and Good Reads and I predict this book winning many awards throughout 2013. It is unlike anything else I have read before. It keeps you on your toes, makes you think and ultimately is enjoyable to read. I recommend pre-ordering this book right now and reading it as soon as you can before you hear too much about it!

Pre-order Life After Life here

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