Okay, if I lived in Scotland, I would probably be arrested for following Kate Atkinson around and asking her to be my friend. I came to her as many Americans probably do, through her Jackson Brodie mysteries. And I then grabbed every book she has written.
I have owned Life after Life for several months, but put off reading it because when I start an Atkinson novel, other things fall by the wayside. But two weeks ago, there was a lull in my work schedule, so I took Life after Life off my to-read shelf.
Ursula Todd is born one snowy night in 1910 and immediately dies, the cord wrapped around her neck and the doctor unable to get there in time. Then she is born again, and this time lives. Ursula keeps dying and being reborn as herself with the faint notion that there are things that must be changed. In one life, she is raped by one of her brother’s school buddies. In another, she is married to a brute. She lives through WWII in both Germany and England in two of those lives (one married to a Nazi). Along the way, she dies from influenza, murder, suicide, and bombing.
This may sound confusing, but Atkinson handles all the stories skillfully and almost cheerfully in some cases. One of the joys of reading any Atkinson novel is the witty thoughts characters have about what’s happening to them.
This is a long book at 529 pages, and each page is wonderful!