Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can't Keep It to Myself: Life After Life

Every once in awhile, I read a book that I find is so unique, when people ask what it's like, I honestly have a really hard time answering them.  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was like that for me.  So was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Davide Wroblewski.  (As an aside, I thought both of these titles were absolutely phenomenal in their own rights, so if you haven't read them, I highly recommend them.)  So when I say that Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is like the two aforementioned titles, it's not because it shares plot or format or style.  It's because it is also unlike anything else I've ever read before.  I love novels that are full of surprises, and Atkinson absolutely kept them coming.

Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night to an English banker and his wife in 1910, and dies before she can draw her first breath.  She is born again and begins to wail.  Her life, and her deaths (of which there are more than a few), make her the odd one out in her family, although none of them can say quite what makes her different.  Suffering from deja vu, which is understandable, Ursula lives, and dies, through the WWI as a child and as WWII approaches, it appears that Ursula may be the only one who can save the world.  And if she can, does that also mean she will? 

Absolutely one of the most intriguing, thought provoking novels I've read in quite some time.

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