If you could go back in life and get a do-over, would you take that chance and change the course of history? Kate Atkinson’s brilliant novel, Life After Life tackles this intriguing question.
Ursula Beresford Todd, human palimpsest, gets the chance to live life after life, each time altering the future based on the sometimes not so fun events of the past. Life After Life reminded me of how the superposition principle of quantum physics plays out in Ruth Ozeki’s marvelous book, A Tale for the Time Being. Ursula’s life path has a bevy of possibilities — the array that collapses as you, the observer, follow her story.
I don’t want to say much about the plot to avoid spoilers, though Life After Life is everything I feel a great book should be. It’s a period piece, set in 20th century Europe. The characters are exceptionally deep, fully-flawed, and interesting. I loved that you get to see and experience each vivid character from many different viewpoints — their best and worst sides included — which makes for terrific, rich reading.
You’re never quite sure where Atkinson is going to take you via Ursula and you’re on tenterhooks until the very last page wondering how this imaginative book will end.
Should you read this book? In the words of Ursula’s mom Sylvie, needs must (necessity compels).
Special thanks to my friend Michelle for putting this book, and its sequel, A God in Ruins on my reading radar.
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