Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life cover

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was published in 2013. I haven’t read anything by Atkinson since I slogged to the end of When Will There Be Good News – and really there was no good news at all, I found it very depressing, so I’m a bit late in getting to this one.

One thing you can say for Life After Life is that it is definitely different. The main character Ursula Todd is first born in 1910, but that life doesn’t last long as she is stillborn. Not to worry though as in this book Ursula is reborn again and again, with different outcomes each time, and many different ends to her life.

In fact Ursula is a bit like a cat with nine lives, although I lost count of how many different deaths she suffered. I must admit that I found it all a bit annoying as I was happily getting into yet another of her existences, sometimes featuring bits of a previous life, and sometimes a premonition or feeling of deja vu changing an earlier story – when suddenly she was dead again and it started all over again. I think I prefer fiction to be a bit more straightforward.

I really liked quite a lot of the characters, which is always a plus. One of them says: ‘What if we get a chance to do it all again and again until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’

Probably not wonderful, because apparently most people just keep repeating the same mistakes throughout their lives.

I just thought that it was a bit of a waste of so many story ideas, but it kept me entertained during the awful wet weather that we’re still suffering here in the east of Scotland.

I think that Atkinson managed to portray London during World War 2 at the height of the Blitz very accurately, going from what I’ve been told by people who witnessed it all first hand anyway, including one man who had been a conscientious objector and ended up driving ambulances through London. The job seemed to consist mainly of gathering up body parts.

As Kate Atkinson lives in Scotland I’m counting this one as my first read for the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge.