Book Review #16: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

life after life


Title: Life after Life

Author: Kate Atkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel

Format: Paperback

Date of Publication: January 30th 2014

Publisher: Black Swan

ISBN13: 9780552779685

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On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual.

For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.


The concept of this book is great – being born again and again until you have got it right. But the book didn’t give me the satisfaction I wanted. I loved the characters of this book, especially the protagonist Ursula, her father Hugh and aunt Izzie. I could relate to these characters and that helped me finish this book. The best part of the story is the WWII scenes present in the later half of the book. They were very vivid and painful. It made me realize that how much the value of a human life has fallen (and sad to say, is still present). These scenes made me feel like I was experiencing them first-hand, and I love this quality of a book. Another section that moved me the most were the scenes between Ursula and her husband. They were so real that I felt my heart ache. The pace is slow but the writing is so beautiful that you can’t stop. Though there are many scenes which repeat itself, I wasn’t affected by it much. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the ending. I don’t know if I didn’t understand it correctly (this book is a bit strong for the head to take it all in), but I felt the ending wasn’t concrete. It felt ambiguous, a bit unclear to me. Other than that, this book was a fine read.


Final Verdict-

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson gets 3 out of 5 stars from me.

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