By Kate Akinson
Reviewed by Stephanie
5 stars out of 5
“What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?”
I believe everyone would love a chance to go back and change things in their past. Correct mistakes in order to change their life or their loved ones lives for the better. But changing one thing may only lead to a new problem……then you have to go back, change the first mistake, then the second one, and so on. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exhausting to me.
Ursula gets the chance to get it ‘right’ over and over again. She is born on a snowy night in February 1910, but since she is born with no doctor present, and with the umbilical cord around her neck she never breaths a breath. Ursula is born on a snowy night in February 1910; the doctor makes it in time to save the little girl from nearly straggling on her own umbilical cord. Through it all, Ursula lives many lives and dies many deaths. Each time she is reborn in the same life, same date, same circumstances but each time she has a certain amount of recall from former times around and she is able to make choices to avoid catastrophe….but new catastrophes, and new deaths, always crop up and they need a fixing the next time around.
Every time she made the right decision and avoided some horrible fate it I would be so happy and I’d hope that maybe this time would be the last time for Ursula, that she would finally get to rest (even though I didn’t want the book to end), but no, there was always the snow.
This book is just beautiful. Painstakingly researched and sublimely written, Life After Life has found a place on my Favorites shelf. Kate Atkinson wrote about life in WWII England and in WWII Germany in such a human way that I don’t believe I ever really felt, or understood, what it was truly like until I read this book. What it was like to live with the threat of being bombed every single night, horrifying. Or what it was like to live under the rule of a crazy man, loving him and worshiping him as the savior of your country only to realize, too late, who he really was.
I love this book and this quote that I hate to admit hits a little too close to home.
“Ursula craved solitude but she hated loneliness, a conundrum that she couldn't even begin to solve.”