Life After Life

All posts tagged Life After Life

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

Published September 5, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.

What did I think?:

I’ve been meaning to read some Kate Atkinson for a while, and when she was short-listed for the Woman’s Prize for Fiction 2013, for this, her latest novel, I thought this would be a good place to start. It is the story of Ursula who is born in 1910, and has a nasty habit of dying quite a lot. I say a lot, as each time she dies, she is reincarnated again (into the same family) but each time she is given a new shot at life, she gets that little bit further along by avoiding the incident that led to her death in the first place. Sounds confusing, but somehow, Kate Atkinson makes it work, but how she kept track of all the different strands I’ll never understand!

The deaths take a variety of forms, at different ages as mentioned – from the first where she is strangled by her umbilical cord during her mother’s pregnancy, to the Spanish flu and being killed by a bomb explosion during the Second World War. Each death brings originality and a new little curiosity to us as the reader, as we wonder how she will avoid the same fate next time round. Ursula is not completely aware that she is preventing her own death each time, but feels an ominous sort of dread. Some of the decisions she makes are quite small and not particularly life-changing, for example, simply deciding not to step out onto the roof as a child, saves her from her fate. Other decisions determine that she will never have the chance to be a mother. And, of course, what would her life have been like if she had the chance to meet Hitler in 1930 and shoot him?

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but once I had read the first few chapters and got into the swing of things, I absolutely loved it and thought it was an incredibly unique way to tell a story. The characters were all fascinating, and some parts were truly gripping, having me turn the pages (okay, tap my Kindle) long into the night. Heart-breaking and poignant in parts and shocking and gritty in others as the war rages and Ursula joins a bomb raid rescue team. I don’t think I will ever forget the “corpse coming apart like a Christmas cracker” section…. but I’m not going to say any more, you’ll just have to read it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


WWW Wednesday #16

Published September 4, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, thank you MizB!

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?


This book was shortlisted for the Woman’s Prize for Fiction 2013 and I can totally see why. Loving it so far!

What did you recently finish reading?


I read this book as part of a “Talking About” items I do with my sister, ChrissiReads. Our review will be up later today so check back if you’re interested! This book is also known as “Swimming at Night” in the U.S.

What do you think you’ll read next?


A recommendation from my sister who has read all three books in the series, I am finally getting around to the first one!

What are you reading this W W W Wednesday? Please feel free to leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit. Happy Reading Everyone!

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 Shortlist Announced

Published April 16, 2013 by bibliobeth

The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013 shortlist was announced today (formerly the Orange Prize), looks like a tough group – do you think Hilary Mantel can take them? And win yet another literary prize (and £30,000) for Bring Up The Bodies? Place your bets! The Chair of Judges, Miranda Richardson said “The shortlist for 2013 represents six tremendous writers at the top of their game.” 

I can’t wait to read them. I’ve only read On Beauty by Zadie Smith and wasn’t that impressed but it was a long time ago and here’s hoping my tastes have matured. The A.M. Homes book is on the Waterstones Book Club list at the moment and definitely on my TBR radar, and I have been meaning to read Kate Atkinson for a while, but not sure whether I should start with her older works? I have read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and have The Lacuna to read pretty soon so looking forward to dipping into Flight Behaviour. As for the giantess that is Hilary Mantel, I will soon be attempting to read Wolf Hall again, was I the only person in the world that didn’t get it? I am a big fan of the Tudor period so am very disappointed in myself…. (slaps wrist). Finally, Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple  was also mentioned and recommended in a podcast that I listen to on a regular basis – Books on the Nightstand, so will be checking that out.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the shortlist!


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