Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
I just finished Kate Atkinson’s book Life After Life from my summer reading list. It’s my third novel so far this summer, and by far my favorite.
To start with, it’s a very unusual story. The long and short of it follows a single character, Ursula, as she is born and dies over and over. The main point is that one small chance encounter or decision can change everything. Even something like dawdling a bit too long on a walk home can have great implications on everything from who you marry, your career, and even if you live or die.
Things I Loved About It
- It has a Daphne du Maurier Rebecca reference in it (page 440) “it’s like Manderley, terrifically wild and romantic, no Mrs. Danvers though, thank goodness.” I love Daphne du Maurier, and if Kate Akinson was at all inspired by her writing, it’s no wonder I liked Life After Life so well.
- I’ve never written anything with such detail on what it was like to live in London during the Blitz. Pretty horrific, really. I feel like it opened me up to a point in history I hadn’t previously considered (even though I visited a bombed out church in Bristol…frustrated with my mind that I cannot remember which one, nor the details of it). I like a book that makes you think a bit and changes you because of it.
- The characters really developed over time. For example, Sylvie. I liked her in the beginning, found her to be a sympathetic person. Not so much as the book progressed. I found that the characters I like, I really liked and with whom I felt a kinship. Strangely, I didn’t get such black and white like/dislike feelings over Ursula’s personality. Watching events unfold through her eyes is much like how I watch my life unfold through my own eyes…more from the inside looking out than the outside looking in.
- This next point is really neither here nor there, but I don’t see how it would be possible to successfully make this book into a movie and have it make sense. I don’t like reading books that almost seem as if they are written with a screenplay and movie in mind.
- It’s really a hell of a story. Such an unusual concept, and executed brilliantly. I kept thinking about what was going on in the book when my thoughts went idle. It’s the sort of book where you feel like you need to physically disengage yourself from the literature and get back to your own real life.
Things I Wasn’t Crazy About
- It could be me, but I found that the dates didn’t sink in. This book goes back and forth through time a LOT. Each chapter is titled with the date, and I often had to go back and look at the title page again to figure out when things were taking place.
- The ending was a bit meh. But, to be honest, I’m not sure how I would have ended it, either.
It’s a thick book and a long tale, but well worth the read.