Top positive review
The novel you always hope to read....
4 June 2017
"Life after life" is the kind of book you hope to encounter whenever you pickup a novel for the first time. I had read the follow up "A god in ruins" not knowing what to expect and was engrossed in that novel to the extent that there was a sharp intake of breath when I ultimately got to the end. . Whilst this book covers the fate of the same family and even covers much of the same time line, both can be read on their own. However, having read either of the two, there is a fair chance of wanting to read the other. Intriguingly, there are little elements within this first volume which I cannot recall getting answered in the second and I would be very keen to read a third novel about the Todd family.
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.