Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Life After Life

Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is the story of Ursula Todd, who dies minutes after she's born then on that same day is born to live a life that is full of "do-overs." She lives only to die, only to live again. The book takes place from 1910 to the end of the First World War, to the trials and tribulations of the Second, and all the years in between, with Ursula making decisions that have incredible consequences.

As my mother-in-law likes to say "there is more than one way to live a life" and in this case, it's showcased in Ursula's never-ending deja vu. It also fits my husband's favorite phrase "Life is about choices." Every time Ursula lives again and comes to that moment that would take the path it did previously, she chooses to take another route.

I admit to being intrigued just by the very synopsis. Really? She dies? Kind of? How is this going to work? Atkinson handles the story very well. I enjoyed seeing how one simple event could change Ursula's life for better or for worse. I do wish her "deja vu" moments had been explained a bit each time she lives again, just so we know why she just doesn't do the same thing she did the last time. It's toyed with a bit during her childhood, but later in adulthood there seems to be very little "ah ha" moments for the character to take the other road.

I found Ursula's family to be very realistic, especially for the time period. I really loved her father Hugh.  He was a father and husband who generally just wanted a peaceful household so ignored a lot, but loved his family. Ursula also a great character. With each decision and event, I couldn't help, but empathize with her when I took into account the time period, her social class, her family. How no matter how dramatic the choice and its outcome, you still saw her core and understood her motives.

The Verdict
Bookshelf: If you ever wonder about the what-ifs in your life, this is your book. The paths we could all take in our lives and where they could ultimately lead up.

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