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“On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual” (Goodreads).

How’s that for a teaser?!?!

I found this tale utterly fascinating. The core concept of the story is that the main character, Ursula, is instantly reborn every time she dies. Not reincarnation exactly, because she is reborn into essentially the same exact setting. Over the course of these rebirths Ursula develops “intuitions” about certain details from her previous lives. She is never exactly the same person in these lives either. Sometimes the hero, sometimes the victim, sometimes she dies old, at others she dies young. Regardless, it all starts over.

I was reminded a lot of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 while reading this book. The mechanisms are different, but some concepts are similar. In both, the main characters are challenged with opportunities to “redo” history. What does one choose to do with such an opportunity? What weight anchors these decisions? It’s fun to read about, and fun to think about.

A major takeaway, for me at least, is that there is no perfect life. Even with multiple attempts at the same life, Ursula never finds “perfection.” If she can’t do it, how can we expect to?

Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled anything for you. The author expertly sucks you in and keeps you gripped throughout, just as you wait for the next shoe to drop.

Great for readers who love Historical Fiction and thought-provoking, yet melancholy tales.  It really hangs with you long after you’ve finished it.
Thanks for reading,


PS. Excellent as an audio book as well.

Be sure to check our digital collection for ebook and digital audiobook availability (available for your smartphone or tablet).

3M Cloud Library

One response to “Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, a Book Review”

  1. A God in Ruins – O'Fallon Public Library Blog Avatar

    […] ago, Ryan wrote a raving review about Kate Atkinson’s bestselling novel Life After Life.   If you haven’t read the […]


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