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Life After Life Paperback – 30 Jan 2014
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"Kate Atkinson's new novel is a box of delights. Ingenious in construction, indefatigably entertaining, it grips the reader's imagination on the first page and never lets go. If you wish to be moved and astonished, read it. And if you want to give a dazzling present, buy it for your friends." Hilary Mantel "There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: it's ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS I'VE READ THIS CENTURY." -- Gillian Flynn,no1 New York Times author of Gone Girl, and Sharp Objects "Truly brilliant...Think of Audrey Niffenegger's The TimeTraveler's Wife or David Nicholl's One Day...[or] Martin Amis's Times Arrow, his rewinding of the Holocaust that was shortlisted for the Booker. Life After Life should have the popular success of the former and deserves to win prizes, too. It has that kind of thrill to it, of an already much-loved novelist taking a leap, and breaking through to the next level...This is a rare book that you want, Ursula-like, to start again the minute you have finished." -- Helen Rumbelow The Times "What makes Atkinson an exceptional writer - and this is her most ambitious and most gripping work to date - is that she does so with an emotional delicacy and understanding that transcend experiment or playfulness. Life After Life gives us a heroine whose fictional underpinning is permanently exposed, whose artificial status is never in doubt; and yet one who feels painfully, horribly real to us." -- Alex Clark Guardian "Merging family saga with a fluid sense of time and an extraordinarily vivid sense of history at its most human level. A dizzying and dazzling tour de force." -- Amber Pearson Daily Mail
About the Author
Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. She won the Costa Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her three critically lauded and prizewinning novels set around World War II are Life After Life, A God in Ruins (both winners of the Costa Novel Award), and Transcription.
Her bestselling literary crime novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog became a BBC television series starring Jason Isaacs. Jackson Brodie returns in her new novel Big Sky.
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Which is a shame, as there are some lovely moments of writing and life here. I found it an easy-to-read writing style that's harrowing, amusing and movingly poignant in places; the rest of the time felt a lot like waiting for the really good bit to happen, and it never did.
Simply put, this novel takes the notion of having different possibilities open to you throughout life and puts the main protagonist in amongst a wealth of alternatives, the principle storyline looking at the Second World war through both an English and German perspective. The idea may seem too eccentric to work but Kate Atkinson pulls the ideas off with aplomb.
For me, there are two elements of great story telling. There first is to create such strong characters that we know who they are when speaking because their voices come out so strongly in the dialogue. All the characters in this book are terrific , whether it is the flaky Irish housemaid Bridget or my particular favourite, the incorrigible aunt and authoress, Izzy who surely deserves a book of her own. The other component is having the sensation of being plunged in to a world where the people and places seem real and who you feel sad to leave behind when you finish the book.
Kate Atkinson has tapped in to something truly wonderful in this book and whilst both this and "A God in ruins" ultimately reveal a more shocking face of 20th century life than initially supposed in the two differing accounts of the Second World War from the perspective of both the bomber and the bombed, there seem enough potential in the little world she has created to make another visit to Fox Corner highly desirable. This is a fantastic novel.
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Part of the joy of reading this book is wondering what small changes will make the biggest difference. The blurb suggests that Ursula will attempt to change history and make a big difference. However, the novel is almost exclusively about her life and the small changes that affect it, which makes for a really interesting story!
Another thing that makes the book so compelling is that Ursula doesn't seem to know that these re-dos are happening apart from a strange sense of deja vu.
This is such a interesting concept because most "alternate history" books deal with the major events.
A wonderfully interesting novel. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
There is a style and melancholia reminiscent of McEwan's Atonement which dealt with similar themes. Lost innocence and the demise of the Decent English family. The poignancy is driven by this loss of an ideal world in conflict with the appalling misunderstandings and lack of clear and honest communication of those days. The question of class is always present in English novels somewhere and in my view Atkinson neatly avoids addressing it full-on. Instead she highlights the enthusiasm and character of an entire people willing to take on a stronger, nastier enemy.
There is a lot more to this book. Long after reading it I am still considering all the questions she throws out, all the lines of narrative, real and imagined, all the lost potential, the devastating effect on society. There are strands of political and social thought woven into the novel which provoke and chide. I feel that Atkinson sees us as passive and wants us to take action, a call echoed in the next novel 'A god in ruins'. This is much more than a good yarn or clever family drama, this is a work of social importance.