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I have been a big fan of Kate Atkinson since I first read her novel Behind The Scenes At The Museum many years ago now, and I have read all of the books that she has released. Therefore when I saw adverts for her new book Life After Life which came out recently, I was very keen to get my hands on a copy. I have found myself not being able to find as much time for reading lately so I thought this might be one that could get me back into it and get me gripped. I bought it on Kindle for about £10.
The basic premise of Life After Life is that a girl, Ursula, keeps reliving being reincarnated as herself in slightly different versions of her life. The tagline is "what if we had the chance to do it again and again, until we finally got it right?" This sounded quite interesting to me on first glance as it is quite quirky but it seemed like something Kate Atkinson would be able to pull off. We start the book in Germany in 1930 with a murder scene to which we don't have much background, and later as the book goes on, we start to see how things will go full circle and how all the different versions of Usulas life link up to this scene.
The fact that the story goes through lots of different versions of the same persons life does make it somewhat hard to get into at first in my opinion. At the beginning a lot of her lives are over very quickly and it can get a bit repetitive, as we experience numerous different retellings of her birth scene and then various incidents from Ursula's childhood and teens but with a different slant each time. These are okay but it is hard to feel too much investment in the story when you know the character is probably about to die and a new version about to start!
Later on some of the lives do become a bit more intricate and involved, and we get to see more of Ursula as she becomes an adult in a few different lives. It is interesting to see the family relationships, as in each life some things never change such as Ursula always seems to have much more connection to her sister Pam and brother Teddy, as well as her dad, and her mother is always a bit difficult, as is another of her brothers and her aunt Izzy always seems to be more or less the same each time. It is interesting to see the relationships and people adapting to different circumstances. What I did like is how you can sometimes see the pivotal moments where her life could have taken a different path, for example in one life Ursula marries a man who helped her up on the street. In another life you see this same incident happening but she runs off and doesn't talk to the man.
In a few of her lives Ursula ends up in Germany and sometimes she stays in the Uk, and as she lives through world war two this does give the opportunity to see how it is on each side and this is interesting. Some of the war sections are quite harrowing and shocking, but I found they were the parts which probably gripped me the most.
Even though it was quite hard to get into as it was very choppy , especially to begin with, I still found this an interesting read and quite a quick book to get through.
I would say its worth reading but personally I was left disappointed as my expectations of Kate Atkinson were so high because she is normally one of my favourite writers. I felt it was not really worth the full amount that I spent on it as I normally don't pay full price for books, especially not if I am only buying the kindle version.