Monday, September 30, 2013

Life after Life.

Title/Author: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson.

Read by: Fenella Woolgar.

Genre:  Speculative Fiction.

Publisher:  Regan Arthur Books.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis:  On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, 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. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

My Thoughts:  Imagine if you could do your life over and over again, until you got it perfect.  What would you do?  Take a different turn?  Choose a different major in school?  Date a different person?  These are choices that main character Ursula Todd faces.  Although her understanding of her situation isn't clear to her, it's interesting for the reader to see what will happen time and time again.  As each decision by her and her family differs, her life goes on a different path as do people's lives around her.   I think this book could lead to a fascinating discussion in theological topics, such as fate, reincarnation, nature vs. nurture, etc. 

I thought the characters were very appealing.  I became attached to Ursula and really wanted to see her happy.  In some lives she was and some she wasn't.  The characters that revolved around her were enjoyable too.  I loved the relationship that she and her father had.  He called her "Little Bear," which I took to be a reference to the constellation Ursa Major and Minor.   I also liked her older sister, Pamela, who was very practical and kind to her younger sister.  

Life after Life spanned WWI and WWII and highlighted the brutality of war.  At times it was harsh and dark yet so well done that my sympathy of the characters was palpable.  

The only thing was that I really didn't see the entire point of the story.   Nothing was resolved and there wasn't a huge lesson learned.  Even one huge event that she was trying to change, wasn't explored. However, this didn't diminish my enjoyment of finding out what was going to happen to Ursula in each version of her life.   And, perhaps the exploration of different paths in one person's life was the point.  I was also hoping for more of a paranormal element when I picked this book up, and it certainly could have gone there, but other than a few oddities and eerie feelings and deeds of Ursula there wasn't much.  At times she did seem to have a vague understanding of what was happening.  Deja Vu and reincarnation was explored a bit as well, but personally I would not consider this a paranormal story.  

Narration:  Fenella Woolgar has a beautiful voice.  It reminded me of Julie Andrews, but softer.  I think I would be happy listening to her read a phone book. 

To Wrap it UpLife after Life was an enjoyable book to listen to, not just because of the lovely Fenella Woolgar's voice, but because of the sympathetic and well fleshed out characters. 

Other Editions:

Find more books like these at Indigo.


Anonymous said...

This is one that's been on my TBR for a while. I'm hoping to get to it soon. Not quite sure what to expect, though; reactions seem to be fairly mixed.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I read Started Early, Took My Dog by Atkinson, and I have Case Histories on my tbr shelf. This book appeals to me, so I'll have to remember it next time I have a free audible credit. ;)

Jen | Book Den said...

I'm so glad you reviewed this one! I've been really curious about it. I think I would want to draw some sort of lesson from a book like this. I would need it all to have a greater meaning so that is great to know. I will have to be on the lookout for any other books Fenella Woolgar may have narrated.

fakesteph said...

I'm really interested in the premise, but I usually don't like books that have no bigger purpose and I'm always disappointed when books don't explore the big ideas. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I"ll keep an eye out for books from this narrator.

Midnyte Reader said...

@Charleen-Yeah, I kind of had mixed feelings too, but ultimately I enjoyed listening to it.

@Kate-I'd love to know what you think about this one.

@Jennifer-I would love to know the author's thoughts on this book. What was her main goal with it?

@Fakesteph-The narrator was wonderful. Maybe I missed the bigger purpose, I don't know. said...
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