Life After Life - Kate Atkinson Before I started this book, the marketing copy made me think of Community’s Darkest Timeline jokes, about parallel alternate universes in which small actions shift outcomes – in Greendale’s instance, changing who left the room to receive a pizza delivery resulted in outcomes as varied as an interrupted kiss to, well:


Instead, this book follows more of a Groundhog Day idea of repetitive timelines, living an event over and over again with infinite changes to “get it right.” For Ursula, the star of Life After Life, the event lived over and over again is, essentially, her entire life.

Ursula is born on a snowy day in February 1910 and almost immediately dies. She is born again, only this time the doctor is able to prevent the umbilical cord from completely cutting off her oxygen supply. Each time she is reborn, Ursula lives a little bit longer. She eventually becomes vaguely aware of what is happening and learns to avoid the steps that led to her death the first time around.

I find myself without a lot to say about this one. I’ve mulled over how to review it quite a bit, and I find myself at a bit of a loss. I liked the book, I think Atkinson’s writing is great, and I can appreciate the amount of work that clearly went into it. It’s a good book, but for some reason it just didn’t stick to my ribs the way I had hoped it would. There are some lovely insights on the nature of life, fate, death, and the like, but the characters don’t really stand out for me and I worried that I might burn out somewhere in the middle of this 500 page beast.

The length is partially necessary – in that Atkinson needs it to demonstrate the ways that Ursula is living her life over and over again and what is changed each time – but there are also times when the plot does drag a bit.

I liked this book and I definitely think it’s worth checking out for readers of all flavors. I just don’t feel like jumping up and down and raving about it.