Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Posted October 27, 2013 by Prairie Wife -

life after life

I read books for one reason, to escape reality. Nothing lowers my blood pressure more, than curling up in my big red chair, or lying in bed, and reading a good book. The Cowboy often gets frustrated with me. After almost 13 years together, he still tries to hold a conversation with me when I am reading. If I have a book in my hands, and I don’t make eye contact with you, I haven’t heard a word you’ve said.

I usually pick my books depending on my mood. Sometimes I just want a nice light read with a happy ending. Other times, I want a book that will put my life in perspective, or help me grow as person. I usually don’t go for scary books or courtroom thrillers; they just don’t really interest me. I always read the book review sections in my magazines (I am a magazine addict as well), and then put the titles of books that interest me on my wish list. It’s way easier than trying to remember all the titles, and it allows me to keep an eye on the prices (they always have sales, and discount deals)

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson is a book that will (hopefully) give you a new perspective on your life. It is a fictional novel about Ursula Todd. It takes place in England, both before and during World War II. Atkinson’s novel begins with the death of an adult Ursula, only to tell us about her birth (and prompt death) a few pages later. The book cycles repeatedly through the birth, life, and death of Ursula. Because of Atkinson’s clever writing style this pattern never gets boring. In every chapter, Ursula or one of the other characters, makes a slight change in the story. This results in a completely different path for Ursula’s life. The change may be as insignificant as putting scissors in a drawer, or as drastic as leaving the country.

I soon found myself rooting for Ursula. I began trying to will her, and the others around her, to stop or start behaviors I knew would prolong Ursula’s life, or at least improve it. When the book ended I found myself puzzling over my emotions. Really, the book had ended dozens of times, but I really wanted Atkinson to keep on going until the story of Ursula’s life was absolutely perfect in every way. But, in reality life never is perfect. It stops and starts, and twists and turns, and sometimes even stalls out completely. I was left with a new perspective about the choices I make every day, big and little, and their impact on my life’s story.

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