Life After Life by Kate Atkinson 

Hello! I have been AWOL from this blog for a long old time but I fancied having another crack at it so here I am. Planning to use it as a little online journal of things I make and read and generally enjoy. Hoping to do little book reviews on here, I can’t face the pressure of a proper book review so it will be just a couple of paragraphs about how I felt about it etc.

I started this year feeling a little floppy (that is the technical term for it) so it’s the 30th of January and I’ve only finished one book so far. I’m certainly a bit behind my Goodreads target of reading 60 books in 2022! But I’m sure that there’ll be weeks were I read several books incredibly quickly so it will all work out in the end. Plus, this book was so spectacular it should almost count as 3 or 4 books. 

My feelings can be summarised thus: I bloody loved this and I’m not certain I’ll read a better book this year. 

I suppose that’s not long enough, even for a mini book review. 

The premise of this book is fairly simple – what if you could live your life over and over, getting the chance to make different choices each time? Ursula Todd is born in 1910 and immediately dies, and then she is born and lives. Over and over again we see Ursula live and die, and live and die. For the first section of the book she is trying to survive her childhood during the Spanish Flu outbreak and through various childhood accidents. Once she’s made it to adolescence she has a new set of events to navigate and in her adulthood she also has the Second World War to contend with and works to see what kind of impact she can have on world events. I don’t want to say too much about the actual events of the book and spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it.

To be honest, while I was intrigued by the idea, I was worried I’d find the actual book tiresome. Thankfully, Kate Atkinson is too good a writer to allow it to become boring. We become familiar enough with the bare bones of Ursula’s life to see the impact of the different choices she makes, but it doesn’t become overly repetitive. I particularly found the character development of Ursula’s mother through her different lives fascinating. A lot of this book is quite dark – afterall, the reason that she lives over and over is that she has died over and over again. Two of the lives and deaths stood out to me in particular and I’m sure I’ll vividly remember those passages for a long time.

I also bloody love books about young women set in the 30s and 40s and the majority of this book takes place in the 20s, 30s and 40s. I’m not sure what it is about that period. I suppose this is the time when young women are beginning to live more like we do now – the chance for independence, living away from home before marriage (without being a live-in domestic servant or governess) and the chance for unsupervised relationships with men.

I love this book. I kind of want to eat it. Go and read it! 

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