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  • Michael Braccia

Book Review: Life After Life (Kate Atkinson)

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

477 pages that I couldn’t put down. I’m a slow reader, but this novel was digested in 4 days. Kate Atkinson provides us with a sideways look at life and death. Just one perspective, that of Ursula, born into a middle-class family in 1910. She is born, and dies, many times; each time not quite realising what she has been through. Except in her dreams.

As it says on the jacket, ‘an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its only inevitable destiny? And would you want to?’

A lovely moment when the young girl, in a session with her psychiatrist, was being bombarded with intellectual quotes.

‘Nietzche got that from Pinder. Do you know Greek? Ursula thought he said ‘Pinner’, which was where Hugh’s old nanny had retired to... It seemed unlikely that Nietzche had obtained anything from Pinner, least of all his beliefs’.

Kate Atkinson is certainly at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that ‘celebrates the best and worst of ourselves’.

This is a novel that grips you. There is despair, but always hope. Constant hope. You will know what you want Ursula to do. You grieve with her, for her, and hope that she can put right some of society’s ills. If only.

Michael Braccia

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