Life After Life

life after life

I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It tells the story of Ursula Todd, for whom time is sort of fluid. Every time she dies, the story is rewound and she gets a chance to do things differently. While she isn’t exactly aware that she has lived multiple lives, she does at some point become aware of memories of how things could have gone differently. It is definitely an interesting take on life, death and rebirth.

I found myself fascinated early on, interested to know more about Miss Todd and how many times she would meet her end before her death became final. How many drastically different lives she would lead before she found the one that best suited her. When she would realize that she’s an extraordinarily singular person and that most other people don’t get inexplicable feelings of intense dread that warn them of terrible danger.

Somewhere in the middle of the book, Ursula is palling around with Eva Braun and having occasional encounters with the Fuhrer himself. It kind of lost me there. I disconnected and didn’t pick up the book for a week or so. A shame, because then certain references were lost on me, certain people she met or saved, certain deaths she evaded only to visit the sites where they would have occurred, as they were happening to other people. I just wanted more of Ursula, Very Interesting Person, and not Ursula the Savior.

I perhaps got too caught up with the idea of her shadow-lives not actually happening, since every time she died she went back to a younger state. What I should have been looking at was the totality of it, because she retains some of the memories of those shadow-lives. For her, they happened, if perhaps in a strange, tangential-to-reality way. I gave the book three stars on Goodreads, though I sincerely feel I kind of ruined it for myself by putting it down for too long. I would still recommend it to someone, and recommend that they pay close attention in order to catch all the fleeting connections with people and places as Ursula walks through echoes of lives that never were. Except for her.

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