I love Kate Atkinson. Her prose style is always superb and her characterization wonderful. In this, her latest offering she also gives us much to think about.
The story at its most simplistic reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day
where Bill Murray’s character has to relive the day over and over again until he gets it right. In his case it wasn’t very complicated, it was a simple scenario of guy meets girl, guy wants girl, guy must become worthy of girl, the end. In Life after Life
we follow Ursula through her many lives, lives that are complicated by everyday things like snowstorms, celebrations, the randomness of chance as well as the cause and effect of individual actions. Not to mention a couple of world wars. And it’s not just a case of finally getting it right, as every time she thinks she’s headed off one disaster her actions may or may not cause another.
Ursula appears to live her lives in a linear sequential fashion but there is also something very circular (cyclical, if you like) about them. When one ends the next begins. It would seem that it’s the journey that counts and as a reader I found these journeys compelling. I laughed and cried, and felt like I shared something special with these characters. And as I said before, they gave me plenty of food for thought. I would also like to compliment Ms Atkinson on her glimpses into the very human side of living (if it could be called that) through WWII in both England and Germany.
I will definitely be reading this again not just because I want to spend more time with Ursula and her family through their various ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs but because I know that there is so much more to find there hidden in the layered text. I feel like I have just touched the surface with this my first read.
Another enjoyable buddy read with my good friend Kim :-).