What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ …
The opening lines of the book, more or less, give away the entire premise in a subtle way and yet compel you to enter the wondrous world of Ursula Todd, a girl who dies a lot.
Life after life is an astounding tale of Ursula Todd, child of Hugh and Sylvie Todd. On February 1910, her birth-day, however, was also the day she died. But her death was only a pause in her everlasting life. Not a full stop. What follows after is life of Ursula after many deaths, her chance to undo the mistakes from previous one and her exertion to finally make it right. With every new chance, Ursula tries to alter the traumas of previous life. She has no knowledge of whatever happened before but it is underlying feeling of déjà vu that leads her to a psychologist.
The book, which is now being considered for the women’s prize, is a genuine work of literature showcasing some intelligent and skilful writing. The complex idea of déjà vu and reincarnation has been effectively handled by Kate Atkinson, making the entire story of Ursula Todd even more emphatic and engaging.
Atkinson’s magnificent depiction of history is a real treat to read. Each page is impeccably written and beautiful metaphors. The fluidity of the story gives it a poetic feel written with vast imagination. Aside from being witty and intelligent, the book is also deeply touching. The life of Ursula Todd, in almost every incarnation, is full of hope, despair, love and heartbreak. The emotions of characters are hugely overwhelming, and we couldn’t help but feel for them.
Although the story is about the same protagonist, told over and over again, the book never feels repetitive. In fact, every other reincarnation feels as fresh and magnificent as any other new story and for an author, this is quite an accomplishment.
Kate Atkinson is already an author known for her flair for writing, but with this book she recently reaches a notch higher. A great storyteller, Atkinson does not give you the privilege of having a single dull moment throughout the book. Her characters are realistic and well crafted. And her scenic like expression of events revolving around Ursula, is totally the worth of attention it is receiving already. The book is sure to resonate with all literature/history admirers.
Life after life, thoroughly engaging and often whimsical, is a kind of book that shouldn’t be just read but devoured.