Awardwinning Kate Atkinsons “Life after Life” is a novel that explores the question “What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?”. I bought it in a little bookshop in England, because of the description on the back and hoped it was all the 600 pages worth.
In England in 1910 a baby is born during a snowstorm. This child gets the chance to do things differently, when circumstances, bad choices and unfortunate events influence her life. The baby is born again, same place, same house, same family every time until she learns to navigate the world differently. The child grows, not knowing that this is her reality. We follow her through her life (lives), through siblingterrors, family issues, the first kiss, struggles in adulthood, relationships and war.
First of all – this book is poetic! Not in a literal sense that it is categorized as poetry but it has that really special poetic feeling to it when you read it, that it heightens your spiritual awareness. Much like THIS BOOK made me feel. (link til Nigeria – magic).
We start with the birth of a baby during a snowstorm. The chapters always start with the birth of Ursula, but throughout the book, but not in a boring way. It is not exactly the same every time around. My sister asked me, if I then had to read it over and over, every time Ursula died and returned to live her life anew, but this is not the case. We simply follow her through important, key moments in the life she is currently experiencing, and not two of them are the same. It goes from reading a full chapter on the birth, to a simple sentence, so beautifully crafted that the reader knows, okay here we go again. Then it starts out from there, with the event that then was made different from the previous life. This might be hard to fathom if you haven’t read the book yet, but it’s so easy to grasp when reading it, I promise.
So Ursula is this, sort of strange, girl that grows up with a family that cares for her, yet she is still somehow the odd one out. Having experienced more and more lives with different impact, she slowly realizes that she has instincts that not everyone does. In one life, a dangerous situation will mean death, in the next, she avoids the situation in a plausible manner, not really knowing about it herself.
This book is so well written it’s ridiculous. The characters are so believable, even the ones you only encounter really briefly, but what I am most impressed with is the main character, Ursula. She stays the same person in each life, yet she still changes due to the surroundings imposed upon her and grows stronger through the combined experiences of having lived.
I wish there was more of this book, I really do, I did not want it to end, because I got so soaked up in this universe, following Ursula and seeing where she would end up next. There is so much to this book that I can’t really spoil, and there are so many details, horrible, awful, beautiful, sad and happy details from Ursulas life that it is heartbreaking in all of the spectre of human emotion.
This is just a wonderful book and If you like domestic drama, historic action, stories about growing up, changing the world, a little bit of sci-fi, the “would you kill Hitler if you could?” time-travelers question, melancholy and exploration of the different stages and relationships in life. Then go get your hands on this book. It looks pretty too!