“Why is everything an ‘adventure’ with you?” Sylvie said irritably to Izzie. Because life is an adventure, of course. I would say it was more of an endurance race, Sylvie said. Or an obstacle course.”
What is this book about?
Ursula Todd is the seemingly unremarkable daughter of a wealthy English Family living in the wonderfully named house Fox Corner. At the same time Ursula dies in childbirth, not even being able to embark on this life. At yet another time Ursula does live, but drowns at the beach when she’s just a little girl. But how can that be if she, at the immediate start of the book, tries to shoot Hitler? Oh yes, this is one of those books with multiple possible story lines. Ursula has the chance to do redo her life, over and over and over, trying to get it right.
Why is it boring?
I like a good science fiction premise, but it’s not like we’ve never heard of this idea before. Someone has the ability to do over once’s life after dying, making death not the inevitable end. And why did Ursula have to go after Hitler? I’m not sure there is a more cliched idea than ‘What if someone killed Hitler before he could do all these terrible things?’. I was about ready to dismiss this book immediately after those first lines, but fortunately Atkinson doesn’t really delve into this possible world that much. She even sets up the story in such a way it sort of makes ‘sense’ for Ursula to kill Hitler and that’s quite an accomplishment.
Who would you recommend it to?
If you always wonder about the darkest timeline this book will indulge you in your lunatic rantings. Life After Life shows the consequences of small changes and how life’s major moments might not be yours to change. It is also a great read for lovers of all things English. The book is so British you can smell the tea on the pages. Ursula’s family is portrayed as a magnificent stiff English, but wealthy family with the odd black sheep thrown in. Reading it made me wish I grew up in the English countryside in a house that is visited by foxes, holds antique furniture and many adorable siblings.
Why should I read it if it’s boring?!
It might not be the most unique story, but it’s a delight to read and with plenty of new additions to still make it feel special. Ursula and her family are all lovely characters who you just want to spend more time with. It was very interesting how all the side characters were at least equally intriguing as Ursula, who herself is a pretty awesome lead for the book. Atkinson tries to stay away from all the ‘Butterfly-effect’ cliches – with the exception of Hitler – and tells a rather small story about an English girl who makes mistakes throughout her different lives. I liked how Ursula wasn’t that aware of her reincarnation possibilities, or at least didn’t use it as a special power. Every life she lived she treated as her only life, living it out until it was no longer possible.
The story of Life After Life is emotional and kind, but unfortunately it also felt a bit disjointed. There were too many possibilities, too many lives for Ursula to live and Atkinson wanted to tell them all. Which I get, because they all have their own perfect details and stories, but as a novel there was too much going on for it to make a whole.
If you want to read Life After Life you can order it here!
This Boring Book Recommendation is unofficially brought to you by The Morning News Tournament of Books in which Life After Life is one of the contenders. If you wanna see how the book fared in the Tournament against The People in the Trees after beating Woke up Lonely, you can read what John Green has to say about it.