Life After Life | Kate Atkinson

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Before I begin I would just like to say that a book review on this blog will be a pretty rare occasion. Not because I don't read, just because I'm so slow. For example I have been reading this particular book since valentines day as it wads a gift from Gareth and I've literally just finished it a few days ago, oh dear!

I am going to try hard though on picking up my reading speed because taking six months to read a book is a little silly, when there's so many that I want to read. In my defense this book can get complicated as it travels in time so I would always flick back a few pages just so I was sure that I knew what was going on and that slowed me down significantly! 

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right ?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. 

What if there were second chances? and third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life ? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

The first thing that made me attracted to this book is the concept. I always find myself thinking about second chances, even if I have an embarrassing moment, I talk out of term, I fall over etc. I think about if I had the ability to erase that life would be better wouldn't it ? Or do we need those mistakes to make us human ?

The plot revolves around a woman named Ursula and her small family in the English countryside, we follow her through her life until the end. The book begins in chronological order starting at her birth (and death) telling the reader very quickly that she is not just a normal girl. I would describe the structure of this book as almost being in seperate stories, beginning at childhood until something catalytic happens causing the story to begin once again but change somewhat profusely. 

The book is very historically accurate and you can see that the author has clearly done her research. Ursula's childhood is parallel to WW1 starting and when she reaches her 20's WW2 begins. This makes the book more addictive because of all the danger we see her grow up around, all the lives she leads through the war and how she survives (and sometimes doesn't)
With my interest in psychology I find that the author making Ursula sometimes realise that something is wrong is fascinating and so clever. Sometimes when something has happened before which caused her death or something changeable to happen, she starts to remember, causing her to panic and try and escape from what had happened in that particular place before. In the book she also visits a psychologist who speaks to her about deja-vu which I find already incredibly interesting. The author also references many of my favourite famous philosophers like Niche and Plato. I like how the author made Ursula conscious of her being different but she never really realises how special she is, throughout the book she is always confused about whether she is being given second chances, I think that it probably would have ruined the book if it became obvious to her that she could die and come back to life, writing it this way still leaves the readers mind open to interpretation to whether Ursula has realised or not. 

The only criticism I have with the book is that it is just too long, it could have been cut down a lot more. Many of the chapters especially in the middle you can tell are page fillers and are not too interesting to read. The amount of times she dies can be quite annoying as well, you kind of feel like rolling your eyes back into your head and saying the inevitable 'here we go again' because it can get a little predictable towards the ends. However there are plot twists and after the boring chapters, there are some action packed bits that keep your imagination on it's toes. 

      Despite the criticism I have with it this book is magical and so well written, the authors descriptive language is so whimsical and you can really feel yourself being transported right into Ursula's shoes. I adore the concept and I think the author thought about it so well, not revealing too much, leaving your mind open to interpretation. It is filled with truly emotional and poignant scenes which will leave you a little numb afterwards. An amazing book that leaves you longing for answers. 

8 moons out of 10



  1. This is the most amazing cushion ever, great review!
    - Grace

    1. My Mum got me it because apparently we have a resemblance ! and thank you x