Monday, 17 March 2014

Life After Life

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I've been a fan of Kate Atkinson since her debut Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I was waiting for this one to come out in paperback as I really wanted a physical book to keep but not a hardback. Finally it came out and I bought it in the supermarket.

I was not at all disappointed - it's a brilliant book, a cracking good read. The premise is - what if you could keep living your life over and over again, until you got it right? In the first few sections, Ursula is born during a snowstorm in 1910 and gets to various points in her childhood before dying. Gradually in subsequent lives she begins to have deja vu - she can remember being here before. She makes different choices each time and gets further along. Some choices are huge, eg fighting off the boy who raped her at 16. Some far smaller but still with a profound effect on her life. The London Blitz features heavily in some lives, eventually leading her to wondering what if Hitler was killed before he became Fuhrer, would there still have been such a terrible war?

I love Atkinson's style of writing - the way she drops in tiny snippets of backstory, often in brackets, remembered lines of dialogue. The reader remembers along with the character. She's a master of the tiny flashback. She's a master at showing how small actions by her MC can have big consequences, and knock-on effects on many other characters. And that's what this book's all about, really.

I absolutely loved it, and did not want it to end.

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