Don’t worry this will happen again – “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson

April 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm 7 comments

9780316176491_custom-c831234cef792e71b1cd218d07c98edfbd8d2ddd-s2-c85“Life After Life” by Kate Akinson, Published in 2013

When I finished this book I could almost hear the sounds of my own disappointment *insert sad trombone here*.  I don’t want to diminish the writing or the concept of Atkinson’s story but like a lot of things what starts as a good idea at the beginning can often fall flat and for me that is what happened here. To be fair, I was really looking forward to reading this book knowing it had received so many accolades so perhaps the book was doomed from the beginning of our relationship.

This book has been reviewed to death but, regardless, a quick summary: Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night in 1910, in the English countryside. She dies. Reset. She is born again in 1910. She narrowly makes it but she lives.  And thus begins her lives of dying, narrowly escaping death, living, moving to Germany, moving to London, having a child, being childless – often a frightening feeling in her gut that this has all happened before.  Sometimes this feeling changes her decision-making and of course changes the lives of the whole cast of characters around her.

I am just going to be honest here, though the first 80 pages felt a bit repetitive, my main issue with the book is I just got confused. Was this the 1922 where she had the affair with the married guy or the 1922 where Ursula was raped? Is this the WWII where Ursula lives in a dismal apartment, working as a secretary, or lives with her friend or has a child or…I think you get the point.  And yes, in part I was a lazy reader with this book. But honestly, I didn’t feel like I should have to make a flowchart to keep up with what Atkinson was throwing at me.

I went through the last fourth of the rather large book just reading and accepting each new chapter as essentially a new short story about the same character. Maybe that was the plan all along.  I have to say, it is romantic – this notion that we will have the chance to do it again, better, maybe even wiser.  I predict that we are going to see this technique again and Atkinson is a solid writer so I worry what would happen with this idea in less capable hands.  But what do I know? I just recorded an episode of “True Tori” so there is no accounting for taste.



Entry filed under: April 2014 reads. Tags: , , , , , , .

Keeping it all in the family – “The Camomile Lawn” by Mary Wesley A story has more than two sides – “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Book Club Cheerleader  |  April 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Emily: Hopefully, you and I are not the only ones in the universe who read this book wondering what all the hype was about. Like you I loved the premise–I mean who could not be excited about living your life over again until you get it right? (The premise worked for the writers of Ground Hog Day…) And what about the idea of going back in time and knocking off Hitler before he could do the same to half the world? The writing, too, was mesmerizing. I found myself re-reading several passages just to listen to the language in my head. But, alas, I just don’t think the whole thing came off–and on closing the book, I wanted to ask Ms. Atkinson for those many hours of my life back.

    Maybe we are not the most savvy book critics, but we do know what we like. And don’t.



    • 2. Emily C  |  April 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you! I am so glad someone else felt the same way.

  • 3. cammmiam  |  May 1, 2014 at 2:39 am

    This book did not live up to the hype for me either. I didn’t even finished it :/

    • 4. Emily C  |  May 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      You likely made the best choice, it was a bit long to just keep reading it.

  • 5. themisanthropologist  |  May 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Oh no…. I didn’t read your whole review yet, but from the looks of things, you weren’t thrilled about this book. I have this book and am debating whether or not I should read it already…..Maybe I’ll put it off for a bit longer.

    • 6. Emily C  |  May 8, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      A lot of other people loved this book so please don’t let me put you off. And it is written well, I just really didn’t like the technique.

      • 7. themisanthropologist  |  May 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm

        Well, it’s not just your review. I’ve had this book for some time now, but for some reason, I can’t get myself to read it.

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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