Saturday, December 21, 2013

Life After Life

Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson

Genre:  Fiction
Published: 4/2/13 by Little Brown and Company
Pages:  529
Format:  Hardcover

My rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars

(I was working on my year end Best of 2013 books, and I just realized that I forgot to post this review!!)

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson is an ambitious, fascinating novel about Ursula Todd, who dies in the first pages of the novel only to start her life over again.  Then she continues to live her life and die, again and again, in various ways.  Throughout her various lives, Ursula begins to discover that she might be able to control her fate and the fate of those around her.  In this story, death is not the end, it is only the beginning.  What if you had the chance to live your life over and over again until you finally got it right? 

I had a really hard time getting started with this book.  Especially in the first pages, the story starts and stops frequently as Ursula's lives are cut short.  Finally, about 150 pages into the book, the story stuck with one life long enough for me to begin to care about Ursula and the other characters in this story.  And then I was hooked! 

I read this book filled with both dread and curiosity, anxiously wondering when/how Ursula would die next.  It is dark and bleak.  It often seemed that no matter what life Ursula lived, she was doomed.  But this morbid curiosity is what made the book suspenseful and unpredictable and completely unlike any other book I have read. 

Then there is the ending.  Or is it the beginning?  At first, I was frustrated by the ending because it seemed vague and confusing.  What really happened?  Was Ursula finally able to get her life right, as the back of the book teases?  I have thoughts about this, but I'm not 100% sure!  Upon further thought, without spoiling too much, I have decided that the ending is a fitting way to finish this book about circular time, even though it may not be satisfying to the reader's curiosity.  And honestly, the journey of the whole book was unique and interesting and worth reading, even if I didn't fully understand the ending!

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