Life After Life by Kate Atkinson audiobook

Life After Life: A Novel

By Kate Atkinson
Read by Fenella Woolgar

Reagan Arthur Books 9780316176484
15.43 Hours 1
Format : Digital Download (In Stock)
  • $24.98
    or 1 Credit

    ISBN: 9781619696976

    $12.99 With Membership: Learn More

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
Membership Details
  • Only $12.99/month gets you 1 Credit/month
  • Cancel anytime
  • Hate a book? Then we do too, and we'll exchange it.
See how it works in 15 seconds



A London Guardian Pick of Best Books of the 21st Century

A New York Public Library Staff Pick of Favorite Books of the Last 125 Years

A 2013 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction

Finalist for the 2013 Women's Prize 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 2013 Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book for Fiction

A Barnes & Noble Best Book, April 2013

A Los Angeles Times bestseller

An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013

A 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction

Winner of the 2014 Indies Choice Book Award for Book of the Year

Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction, 2013

A 2014 ALA Notable Book for Adult Fiction

A 2013 BookPage Best Book

A Publishers Weekly bestseller

Selected for the April 2013 Indie Next List

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

An NPR Pick of the Year

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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Masterful...Atkinson not only invites readers in, she also asks them to give up their preconceptions of what a novel should be, and instead accept what a novel can be... What impresses me about this flip book of nonstop scenarios - in wartime and peacetime - is not only how absorbing they are, but how brave Atkinson is to have written them. After all, there really isn't much recent precedent for a major, serious yet playfully experimental novel with a female character at its center. Good for her to have given us one; we needed it...She opened her novel outward, letting it breathe unrestricted, all the while creating a strong, inviting draft of something that feels remarkably like life. Meg Wolitzer,
Audacious and darkly mysterious...Atkinson is a master of structure...A sense of dread but also one of hope infuse the novel...Even the canniest reader can't predict what will happen next, so the long novel remains absorbing until its end. It lightly raises questions about the meaning of life and death and identify, fate and chance, and leaves them unanswered to echo in the reader's mind after the final page. Margaret Quamme, Columbus Dispatch
It is in the depiction of Ursula's loving yet contentious family that Life After Life truly shines...a dazzling, intricate and entertaining novel. Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
[Atkinson] is nothing if not clever...A fine writer...filling the pages with a liveliness and intelligence...Ursula's quest to 'get it right' gradually becomes less important than Atkinson's talent to create such an entertaining and suspenseful story that tells many versions of the history of the 20th century. Bob Hoover, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Delightfully precocious and darkly moody... Revealing and straightforward... Originality is the jumping-off point for this especially unique novel, and readers looking for something fresh should take a chance. Readers already in love with Atkinson's novels, and equally besotted with Jackson Brodie, will be just as pleased with the life - the lives - of Ursula Todd. Carol Memmott, USA Today
Life After Life is a hypnotic dance of causality and chance, in which Ursula makes genuine progress...[Life After Life] displays...trapeze-artist panache, releasing plotlines into the oblivion of one past life only to retrieve them, to the reader's appreciative gasps, in a later one...It's rich in the gravity and texture of reality... Marvelously vibrant...Atkinson makes every one of Ursula's lives, as well as the lives of those she touches, feel inestimably precious. Laura Miller, Salon
Ambitious...[Atkinson] can be playful and profound, an enjoyable storyteller as well as an artful writer...She gives us a complete picture of an upper-class British family as it moves into the modern era, and in such a way that we are left sifting through the many turns a life can take and contemplating the consequences thereof. Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
Life After Life is dark and funny and suspenseful and sad all at the same time. Emily Ecton, NPR (Great Reads of 2013)
Dazzling...the fantasy behind that reality turns out to be rivetingly complex. Karen Holt, O, the Oprah Magazine
Life After Life is a masterpiece about how even the smallest choices can sometimes change the course of history. It's wise, bittersweet, funny, and unlike anything else you've ever read. Kate Atkinson is one of my all-time favorite novelists, and I believe this is her best book yet. J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Maine and Commencement
Gripping and sophisticated...Enthralling...[Atkinson] deftly captures the cruel frailty of life with judicious compassion...No writer alive makes for better company on the page-knowing, funny, and prodigally inventive: Ursula is a magnificent creation, but dozens of finely drawn secondary characters (her bohemian Aunt Izzie alone would make this book worth reading) force her to fight for the spotlight on every page...Unflaggingly curious and unfailingly open-minded, Atkinson is like some great snoop, prowling among life's mysteries, turning the commonplace inside out...Literary and entertaining all at once, Atkinson is a sophisticated artist who also can keep you up well past bedtime, and that double-barreled talent is on display as never before in Life After Life. My first reaction upon finishing it was to imitate the unsinkable Ursula and begin all over again. Malcolm Jones, The Daily Beast
[Atkinson's] latest novel, Life After Life, is her very best... A big book that defies logic, chronology and even history in ways that underscore its author's fully untethered imagination... Even without the sleight of hand, Life After Life would be an exceptionally captivating book with an engaging cast of characters... [Atkinson's] own writerly cradle was rocked by a very sure hand indeed. Janet Maslin, New York Times
There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl
A densely layered, century-sprawling work that is a formidable bid for the brass ring of the U.K.'s prestigious Man Booker Prize. Life After Life is a drama of failures and providential rebirths...High-concept premise...A deft and convincing portrayal of an English family's evolution across two world wars...Marvelous...Not only does she bring characters to life with enviable ease, she has an almost offhand knack for vivid scene-setting ...Her storytelling prowess is on fullest display in a gorgeous and nerve-racking novella-length chapter set during the Blitz ... It's spellbindingly done. Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
An exercise in narrative gutsiness; a meditation on history, contingency, and free will; and the best new novel I've read this year. Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
Atkinson has turned a high-concept conceit into an intricately crafted, totally engaging new novel...Atkinson combines the cleverness of metafiction with the warmth and detail of period fiction for an end result that is satisfyingly original. Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor
I cannot recommend this book enough. It's nothing short of a genre-bending masterpiece - thoughtful and compelling, convoluted in plot but clear in resolve. If I had many lifetimes, I would make sure to read Life After Life in each. Kevin Nguyen, Grantland
Kate Atkinson's new novel is a box of delights. Ingenious in construction, indefatigably entertaining, it grips the reader's imagination on the first page and never lets go. If you wish to be moved and astonished, read it. And if you want to give a dazzling present, buy it for your friends. Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
An audacious, ambitious book that challenges notions of time, fate and free will, not to mention narrative plausibility...[Atkinson's] writing is funny and quirky and sharp and sad - calamity laced with humor - and full of quietly heroic characters who offer knowing Lorrie Moore-esque parenthetical asides...Atkinson's true genius is structure...Each version is entirely and equally credible. Sarah Lyall, New York Times
Fascinating... A tour de force that ponders memory and déjà vu-and puts history on a very human scale. Parade
Inventive...This ingenious narrative conceit not only illustrates how seemingly small decisions can affect our lives, it also allows us as readers to inhabit a novelist's creative process...Atkinson has crafted a narrative that pushes us to think about our own choices... Some of Ursula's narratives are so compelling, so convincing, that it is hard to imagine her ending up any other way. Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
“Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: It’s one of the best novels I’ve read this century.” Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Audacious, the kind of sweeping virtuoso epic that actually earns overheated book-jacket phrases like 'tour de force!'...Atkinson is a fantastic storyteller... It's all so richly imagined and ingeniously executed that the mystery feels right. Her domestic vignettes and wide-screen portraits of wartime resonate with startling physical and emotional clarity, and even her repetitions find fresh revelations... What Atkinson has mastered: shining a light on how full life is of choices and chance, and how lucky we are to live it. Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
You can't put down Life After Life until you finish it, and then I suggest you read it a second time. Bob Hoover, Dallas Morning News
Sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year. Life After Life is a dazzling juggling act...(by all means, read this book). Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times
The Blitz segments vibrate with life, as vivid and horrifying as a series of glimpses into a charnel house...The natural exuberance of Atkinson's prose is brought into sharp, precise control. Buried inside Life After Life is the best Blitz novel since Sarah Waters's The Night Watch. Steve Donoghue, The Washington Post
A thoroughly entertaining, periodically moving read, and a wholly unique addition ... Atkinson never so much as flirts with pathos; her ethos and heroine are as unsentimental as the times require. Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe
Atkinson has a knack for puzzle-making...creating a series of narrative fragments that cohere into a breathtaking whole...By the final chapters, it's clear that Ursula is gaining on something much bigger than any of her lives: a true calling. Watching that pursuit is frequently heartbreaking and entirely thrilling. Katie Arnold-Ratliff, Time
“Wise, bittersweet, funny, and unlike anything else you’ve ever read…This is her best book yet.” J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author
“Fascinating...A tour de force that ponders memory and déjà vu—and puts history on a very human scale.” Parade
“[Atkinson’s] very best…A big book that defies logic, chronology, and even history in ways that underscore its author’s fully untethered imagination…[It] is full of mind games, but they are purposeful rather than emptily playful…Even without the sleight of hand, Life after Life would be an exceptionally captivating book with an engaging cast of characters.” New York Times
“Woolgar’s narration, along with the production’s editing and direction, ensures that a potentially confusing story is remarkably easy to follow. Woolgar also flawlessly switches between British, American, French, and German accents, making Life after Life a truly rich experience that listeners will not soon forget.. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.” AudioFile
“In a radical departure from her Jackson Brodie mystery series, Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel…Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to ‘a fuss.’ From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers.” Booklist (starred review)
Life after Life is an extraordinary feat of narrative ambition, an audacious genre bender, and a work of literary genius.”
“Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life is no contrived séance room saga of reincarnation; it is a sage tale of living through historic hard times and learning lessons along the way.” Barnes&
“She’s found an inventive way to make both the war’s toll and the pull of alternate history, of darkness avoided or diminished, fresh.” Publishers Weekly
“Provocative, entertaining, and beautifully written.” Kirkus Reviews



by Lauren M 9/13/2017
Overall Performance

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.
by Samuel 9/13/2017
Overall Performance

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.


Author Bio: Kate Atkinson

Author Bio: Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is a New York Times bestselling author. Her books featuring Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1996. Her novel Life after Life was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honors List and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

Titles by Author



Available Formats : Digital Download
Category: Fiction
Runtime: 15.43
Audience: Adult
Language: English