What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.Learn More
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A 2013 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction
A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Fiction
A 2013 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
A 2013 Washington Post Best Audiobook
A 2013 Guardian Best Book of the Year for Fiction
A Wall Street Journal bestseller
A USA Today bestseller
A New York Times bestseller
A Barnes & Noble Best Book, April 2013
A Los Angeles Times bestseller
An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
A 2013 Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book for Fiction
A 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
A #1 NPR bestseller
Winner of the 2014 Indies Choice Book Award for Book of the Year: Adult Fiction
Selected for the April 2013 Indie Next List
Finalist for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction
A Publishers Weekly bestseller
A 2013 BookPage Best Book
A 2014 ALA Notable Book for Adult Fiction
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction, 2013
A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Fiction
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013
Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
An AudioFile Editors’ Pick, April 2013
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?
Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
A great take on an interesting premise
- The premise of this pulled me right in, and the writing kept me there! You follow Ursula’s lives as they’re cut short in different places and then she begins again, with different results and some fascinating experiences. Unlike other similar premises, she’s not fully aware of this phenomenon, keeping both the reader and the characters guessing as to what’s about to happen, and infusing a great blend of suspense and familiarity as Ursula gets closer to perils of past lives. The whole story covers so many different historical significant points from the main character’s various viewpoints – it definitely brings history to a very relatable and introspective level. There’s a sense of the supernatural throughout the story, but tied to so much recognizable human emotion and life experience. It’s beautifully written and well narrated. While I enjoyed it in audio, it was occasionally tough to decipher when a chapter was ending or beginning as often times the “lives” flowed quickly from one to the next. Still worth it in audio, but it make take a little more intentional listening than casual background listening. I'm looking forward to her new novel, A God in Ruins, that follow's Ursula's brother, Teddy.
Devastating and beautiful, a powerful and moving story compellingly told
- I’d been hearing great things about this book for months, starting with multiple Lev Grossman interviews where he heaped “book of the year” style praise, and continuing on with starred reviews left and right. The novel did not disappoint. A powerful, mesmerizing, beautifully-written book which shows over the course of dozens of Ursula’s lifetimes the horror of the Blitz like no novel in my memory, and opens with a daring scene like a navigational star for the course of the book. Born again and again on a snow night in England, 1910, Ursula dies at childbirth, strangled on the umbilical cord. She’s born again and dies of the flu. Of falling down the stairs. Of drowning in the sea. Bit by bit, a deja vu of these previous lives prickles at her memory, guiding her ever-so-slightly here or there at times, ever towards the dramatic confrontation — a gun in her hand, pointed at Hitler’s head in pre-WW2 Germany — depicted in the prologue. She dies in the Blitz. She survives the Blitz to old age. She volunteers. She emigrates to Germany and later endures a Russian siege. A question, though: Why are we inhabiting the early 1900s so much right now? The Accursed, Downton Abbey, now Life after Life. Is it a longing for a supposedly simpler time, of clearly good and clearly bad? I suppose that question is well out of bounds for a short review… In any case, Life after Life ended up in my top 3 audiobooks and books of 2013, and should not be missed. It’s one of the rare books that does what the best books do: breaks you apart and rebuilds you into something new, both more fragile and more resilient than before.
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