Life After Life takes us through the many versions of Ursula Todd's life, as Atkinson addresses the question that often accompanies the deaths of the young: what if she had lived? As Ursula makes different decisions or encounters different situations, she dies--or lives. Through each version of her subsequent life, we get the answers to that very question. Sometimes the answers disappoint and others they astound. Either way, the question of the imagined unlived lives will remain. While I didn't love Life After Life as much as many readers, I can't deny the compelling premise and Atkinson's masterful execution. That she set Ursula's recurring lives during two of the most devastating wars the world has ever seen is particularly poignant, as even today we look back on the lives lost and wonder, what if?
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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, the third child of a wealthy 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 any number of ways. Ursula’s world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization — if only she has the chance?
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.