Currently Reading: Life After Life
Imagine if you could live your life over and over again, making new, small changes each time, until you perfected it. That means different things to different people. For some, it may mean wealth and fame, but for Ursula, it means using her special skills to change the course of human history.
We meet Ursula on the snowy night that she is born. At times, she is stillborn. At others, she is resuscitated and lives. And at other times, she is born without incident. Also, all of these times seem to be occurring at the same time.
Ursula is reincarnated over and over throughout the course of the book. After each rebirth, she retains some knowledge of the previous life. They aren't memories precisely, but rather a deja vu or a feeling, whether of fear or dread when something that has killed her before needs to be avoided in order for her survival.
She lives seemingly dozens of times over, with death by the Spanish influenza proving the most difficult to avoid. This repetition allows the reader to spend time with not only Ursula, but with her family and friends as well. This cast of characters are not only entertaining, but are able to become fully formed individuals, as Ursula's experiences and relationships with them change from life to life.
Kate Atkinson writes with incredible confidence and humor. She takes the idea of death and looks at it through a prism of opportunity. What could you do with infinite lives? Ursula chooses to take on something huge, and life-changing not only for her, but potentially for the entire world.
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