Apr 9, 2013

Book Review: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Book Cover: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Ebook, 544 pages
Published On: April 2, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
Source: Requested for review via NetGalley.

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First Sentence: "A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the cafe."

If I could just turn back time and do that one thing again - everything would be perfect. This is, I think, one of the most common wishes. Cher sang about it, there are a lot of books and movies about time travel and we all dream it will be a possibility in the future. Kate Atkinson in her novel Life After Life tries out a different approach:

"What if we had a chance to do it again and again," Teddy said, "until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

It sure sounds like perfect solution, right? If you make some mistake - don't worry you have a chance to live the same life again... and again... and again.... Ursula in Life After Life gets this chance, and we follow her meanderings through life as she tries to correct past mistakes and achieve that elusive happy ending.

Life After Life is not really a story only about Ursula, it's a story about her parents, servants, brothers and sisters. It's a story about life of a middle class English family between 1910 and 1950. I can not pinpoint one thing and say: this book is about that. It's not about World War I or II, abusive husbands, poverty, death, rape, education of woman, adultery, difference between classes... although Ursula will experience all this and more.

In her wonderful, somewhat whimsical and poetic, writing style Kate Atkinson talks to us about life itself. Sometimes the most ordinary things in the world will make you smile: pet bunnies, first kiss, picnic in the sun. Sometimes it's hard and sad: dead loved one, digging through a rubble of bombed house looking for survivors... Honestly in some of these moments, things that kept me going and why I didn't get all teary-eyed was knowledge that Ursula will have another chance and hope that it will be better next time.

I was afraid that Life After Life will be boring, but it's not. True, it all starts on the same snowy night in 1910 when Ursula is born but the way things unravel always managed to surprise me. I never dreamed how some little things and influences can change your life and your whole future. But, as we all know, no matter how you try you can not achieve a perfect life. You can only steer the events in direction that suits you and hope for the best.

Well this is my attempt to write a review. I'm sorry but I don't really know how to talk without spoilers and mile long analysis about book where events and characters develop in so many different ways. Life After Life is not like anything I ever read before. It's interesting, refreshing, makes you appreciates all the little things in life. Must read for literary or historical fiction fans.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I recommend this book to fans of: literary fiction; historical fiction; Kate Morton; 20th century England setting; stories about English middle class family life; what-if type of stories; ...

Other books by Kate Atkinson: Case Histories, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World and more...


  1. That's what this book is about? I had NO idea. For some reason, I thought this was a contemporary murder mystery. O_O Where the heck did I get that from? Did the author write some before this book? Oh, okay, I looked her up and that IS where I got it.

    Anyway, now that I know it's literary historical, I'm all over this. Adding to my to-read list!

    1. Yes Kate Atkinson is famous for her contemporary murder mystery series. I'm not a fan of that genre, so I am happy that she decided to write something different. This was a great book, made me wonder why I don't read more literary historicals. :)

    2. Yeah, I'm not a big mystery fan either, so I tuned this book out. Now I'm excited about it! :)

    3. Well, I hope review copy lands on your door soon. ;)


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