“What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” Ursula Todd is born in the middle of a snowstorm in 1910, and dies before she manages to take her first breath. Unlike most people, however, Ursula is reborn on the same day, in the same house, to the same family again and again and again. Each time she dies she is reborn to relive her life once more. From World War 1 to the Spanish Flu and Hitler’s reign, Ursula is continuously faced with life altering decisions that will either lead to her death or her final enlightenment.
Life After Life is definitely an original and one of a kind book! I absolutely loved the concept of a character who is continuously reborn to the live the same life. While humans are often faced with forks in the road, we are only given one chance to decide what path our lives will take. Ursula, on the other hand, is faced with dozens of forks, and is allowed to take them all as she lives her life over and over again. I continually held my breath, waiting to see how the the tiniest decision or change in circumstances would completely alter the path that Ursula’s life would take. It was almost like a choose your own adventure story that the reader had no control over!
Yes, parts of the book felt repetitive at times, as Ursula relived certain aspects of her life multiple times, but these repetitions soon gained pace and propelled the story forward. In fact, the repetition of the story helped to make the sudden changes in Ursula’s various lives all the more shocking and exciting. Just when I think Ursula has finally got her life figured out, something dreadful would happen, allowing “the darkness to fall.” It is the lead up to Ursula’s final lives, however, that was the most thrilling. Altering history books in the one of the biggest ways possible, Ursula makes the “What If’s” of a major past event a glorious reality.
Compelling and full of a cast of charismatic characters, Life After Life is a stirring story that will slowly work its way into the hearts of its readers. It’s blend of history and fantasy makes Ursula’s story all the more thrilling. Readers who are looking for something different to capture their attention need look no further then Kate Atkinson’s work of beauty.