Monday, October 6, 2014

Life After Life

 Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, © 2013, Bond Street Books

What if you had life to live all over again? And you were able to learn from the mistakes you made in the first go round? Would you do it all again? Would you try to make a difference for
yourself and the world around you?

Ursula Todd was born on February 11th, 1910. In the middle of a snowstorm, no one comes to the aid of her mother and she dies with the cord wrapped around her neck.

On February 11th, 1910, Ursula Todd is born in the middle of a snowstorm. After a quick scare, she cries to life.

As Kate Atkinson weaves the tale of Ursula's life, we travel through England during a dark time. The world is on the brink of war. Ursula lives only to die at the hands of fate. Repeatedly. After every death, she is born again to do it all over anew, but with subtle twists to extend the story.

Ursula is not untouched by this cyclical life. By the time she reaches puberty, déjà vu plagues her at every turn. Death seems to stalk her, but she learns to outsmart his hand repeatedly. Sometimes whether she wants to or not. Her family notes her odd ways, but it is only Ursula and the reader who see the purpose of it all. And as time marches on that purpose becomes a spectre that many historians would like to see smoted as well.

While I read Ursula's tale, I could not help but think on parts of my own life that could have been changed. Have I lived more than once? Have I danced with death, but picked a safer path this time? If I changed something, would my world look completely different or just slightly askew?

I cannot help but think that there are many lessons to be learned on the path we walk at present. As tempting as it is to go back in time and set things to rights, is that really the right answer? It is an interesting question and one that got Kate Atkinson a Costa Book Award for Novel (2013), plus several literary nominations for awards. I guess that means that a few other people have asked that same question themselves then, doesn't it?

This one is well worth the read in my books!


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