Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

“Life After Life” Doubleday, 2013 (Kindle)

Could also be called “Fifty Ways to Kill a Woman”.

Ursula Todd, doomed to live her life over and over again, tries so hard every time to get it right. But perhaps you never can get it right. We don’t really get second chances. Every life (after life) is flawed. The point is, though, at least you have a life to live.

What does it mean, to live? And to live again and again and to know, somehow, that lives are compounding, that you are learning something from each life, changing and growing each time? Maybe just once you could get it right. Maybe you could change the world.

‘She wasn’t sure that she had a yardstick against which to measure happiness or unhappiness’ (Loc 1658) – but if she doesn’t, what about the rest of us, who have but one life?

There are small things that happen which can change your whole life, tiny insignificant things – a kiss stolen by a brutish boy, a different walk home, deciding who to live with and where, the actions of a faraway aunt – and who knows how that will affect your life, and others’ lives too.

An interesting book, a light read although it deals with some gruesome things – war, rape, death in many guises, tragedy, despair – but always there’s hope, because she gets to try it again. How tiring it would be, to do it again and again. Almost makes you thankful we only have one life.

(or do we?)

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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