Life After Life

Life After Life

A Novel

Book - 2014
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"What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. 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 a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can--will she?"--
Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2014
Edition: First Back Bay paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780316176491
0316176494
Branch Call Number: FIC ATKINSO 2014
Characteristics: xiv, 525 pages, 14 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

This critically acclaimed genre-bender follows Ursula Todd through her many lives and deaths. Ursula dies promptly after she's born on a snowy evening in 1910 in England. The next time she's born, on the same evening, she lives for a few years before drowning. Ursula dies and is reborn into the s... Read More »

This critically acclaimed genre-bender follows Ursula Todd through her many lives and deaths. Ursula dies promptly after she’s born on a snowy evening in 1910 in England. The next time she’s born, on the same evening, she lives for a few years before drowning. Ursula dies and is reborn into the s... Read More »

This critically acclaimed genre-bender follows Ursula Todd through her many lives and deaths. Ursula dies promptly after she's born on a snowy evening in 1910 in England. The next time she's born, on the same evening, she lives for a few years before drowning. Ursula dies and is reborn into the s... Read More »

Just as Marianne and Roland live multiple variations of their relationship, Ursula Todd is able to live versions of her life as she is born and reborn throughout the 20th century. Atkinson explores how a single life could take so many different paths.


From the critics


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c
Chirpster
Aug 26, 2020

Three stars! At first the plot was intriguing, but then the variations of her deaths and assaults seemed unnecessary. I felt like I was being dragged through a list of "how-else-could-she die." I almost stopped reading. Then, Ursula Todd finally realizes that her re-lived life could be headed for a significant purpose. The decisive action she takes is predictable but interesting. Even so, this grand action almost seems like a separate piece of writing. It could have been written as a stand-alone short story. As a reader, I didn't find this grand final action to be a big enough prize for having waded through all that death and victimization.

t
Trixie_reads
Aug 19, 2020

One of my all-time favorite books

bookishdl May 28, 2020

I'm at a loss to explain why I love this complicated, unusual and engaging novel. I'm a huge fan of multi-time narratives and when done well, they're astonishing but they can also fall flat when the author is sloppy. this isn't sloppy by any means. This is intricate, sophisticated, dizzying, multi-layered and beautifully written.

I love the idea of being able to go back and take a different action to change the course of events and who hasn't asked themselves "what if?" on so many occasions. I was completely invested in all the characters and willed a situation to be revisited to change the outcome.

I raced to the end but conversely didn't want it to end as I was enthralled with the repeating of a moment in time and what could happen next. I think this novel will stay with me for quite some time.

e
elysecohen
Mar 01, 2020

The book has an interesting premise in that Ursula Todd is born in 1910 and dies and is reborn over and over again with slightly different circumstances and opportunities. Though other reviews marvel over the uniqueness of the narrative, I found the book to be a tedious read—particularly in the World War II sections that just wouldn’t end. The book would have benefitted from better editing.

h
hamerkop
Feb 19, 2020

It took me a while to get into this novel but once I did I was taken by it. An innovative form is carried by Atkinson's Yorkshire sense of humour, and her adroit characterization of the central characters. Looking forward to the second novel in this series.

j
JackieRuesink
Feb 17, 2020

Insta recommended

p
PatriciaJackson
Nov 24, 2019

I am irresistibly reminded of the 2 volume novel "Blackout" and "All Clear" by Connie Willis. Both Willis' works and this novel evoke a sense of place wonderfully, England in the Second World War. The overlap of lives, dancing between possible futures, works very well. I liked the attention to detail ... the ARP routines, the survival suit ... and the references to the poets (e.g. Marvell, Donne) and the occasional nods to other languages. It makes you think. Do try the Willis books as well.

k
kayreadsnow
Nov 24, 2019

L. Hertzel

r
Raun
Oct 20, 2019

What was the point?

l
LorieMcCown
Oct 03, 2019

Unforgettable book. I listened to this one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not for those who dislike different POV.

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Quotes

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k
kn1226
Sep 14, 2015

Life is too precious to be unhappy.

s
sheirapop1
Aug 05, 2015

"He's always been a politician. He was born a politician." No, Ursula thought, he was born a baby, like everyone else. And this is what he has chosen to become.

n
nmullings
Jul 15, 2015

It's time she thought. A clock struck somewhere in sympathy. She thought of Teddy and Mrs. Woolf, of Roland and little Angela, of Nancy and Sylvie. She thought of Dr. Kellet and Pindar. Become such as you are, having learned what is. She knew what she was now. She was Ursula Beresford Todd and she was a witness.

debwalker Jul 08, 2014

Fur sie, fuhrer.

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Darkness fell."

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Home," it had struck her on the torturous drive back to London, wasn't Egerton Gardens, wasn't even Fox Corner. Home was an idea, and like Arcadia it was lost in the past."

b
becker
Jun 10, 2013

"They had triumphed over death this night. Sylvie wondered when death would seek his revenge."

Summary

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cindyhib Sep 09, 2014

ery Confusing!!!!

d
dkilrain
Mar 10, 2014

This is the first book I have read by this author. I will definitely read another book by her as her style of writing is great. However, this book was a bit hard to follow. The basic premise is to show what would happen if you could relive events in your life until you got them right. The concept is great, but a bit cumbersome in the execution. You end up having chapter after chapter of the same events happening with different outcomes. The net result is you are left with a story that has no real linear story as you aren't sure what this person's life really ended up being. In the end it seems there would be some sort of tying together of all the elements. However there was not, and the reader is left hanging in the air, which is frustrating slogging through a fairly dense book. This would be a great book for a book club though as there is lots of food for thought.

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d
dkilrain
Mar 10, 2014

dkilrain thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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