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So...Life After Life. Just finished it.

(40 Posts)
sassytheFIRST Tue 18-Feb-14 11:31:45

I thought it was an intriguing concept and quite well done. Bits tremendously well painted and moving - the suicide in Berlin, working as an ARP warden and finding the baby Emil...

My question is was it coincidence that Ursula kept being able to start again? Or was it her conscious choice to go back, live it again and make better choices this time?

OP’s posts: |
HortenMarket Tue 18-Feb-14 19:52:47

Oh yes I finished this a few weeks ago and I still think about it. It was beautifully written. I think it wasn't her choice at all. i think somehow she was making the wrong decisions and some greater force (perhaps?) made her start again. After all she only had vague memories or a feeling of impending doom. Loved it.

BaconAndAvocado Tue 18-Feb-14 23:08:51


ADORED this book. It will stay with me for a long time.

KA's best yet, closely followed by Behind the Scenes of,course!

I also,think it wasn't her choice.

The concept of the book was a tricky one but it didn't matter as all the stories and scenes were so beautifully painted.

LOVED that Teddy survived.

Very difficult to follow!

Tinselt0wn Tue 18-Feb-14 23:11:54

I didn't get any feeling that it was Ursula's choice to go back.

I seem to be outside the majority view on this book though as I was a bit disappointed by it and can't believe everyone seems to be saying its her best!

tumbletumble Sun 16-Mar-14 18:54:24

Just finished this.

My feeling was that, to begin with, Ursula had no choice in the matter, but as time went on she began to gain an understanding of her "gift" and gained some measure of control. Surely the last one in Germany when she befriends Eva in order to get close to Hitler was deliberately done in the knowledge of what would happen??

I have to say that, like Tinselt0wn, I didn't love this book as much as I really wanted to.

Stokey Mon 17-Mar-14 16:37:11


And her mother seems to gain some memory of it by the end when she has everything ready to deal with the difficult birth.

mumslife Thu 10-Apr-14 12:39:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorporateRockWhore Thu 10-Apr-14 12:42:51

I didn't enjoy it at all.

The concept is interesting, sort of, but I just felt the book went on and on with no real ups and downs, highs or lows...

I got bored tbh and I don't even remember how it ended.

I also thought the shooting Hitler thing was a bit hokey and overdone.

mumslife Fri 11-Apr-14 09:37:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sonnet Mon 14-Apr-14 14:51:47

Odd because I kept seeing the title on here and I thought "Oh, i must read that as I love Kate Atkinson". I went to buy the kindle edition and found out that I already had a kindle edition purchased in July last year. I assumed that I had bought it after a recommendation and forgotton about. With great anticipation I read the first page only to realise I had already read it!! - So, whilst I remember now I loved the book it did not leave a lasting memory smile

looselegs Tue 15-Apr-14 21:07:08

Couldn't get into it at all-managed about 120 pages but couldn't go any further.

Rangirl Tue 15-Apr-14 22:42:55

I really loved it and feel it is a book that will stay with me

saadia Tue 15-Apr-14 22:45:16

I started it but then lost interest...not sure if I will go back to it.

joanofarchitrave Tue 15-Apr-14 22:46:45

Enjoyed it but felt that the original opening was probably the thing that led her into writing the book, but by the end it seemed a bit separate from the rest of the story.

Liked that Ursula wasn't particularly great as a character.

I think she should have credited Jessica Mitford as the whole assassinating-Hitler alternate history idea comes IMO straight from her autobiography and I don't believe KA hasn't read it.

tallulah Tue 15-Apr-14 22:48:24

It took me a while to get into it. I got quite frustrated at the number of times we went back to 1910. After that it picked up its pace. The bit in Berlin with her daughter was horrible.

itsnothingoriginal Tue 15-Apr-14 22:48:36

Finished this last night!

Also found it hard to get through despite being a great concept for a book. There were bits that seemed to drag out (the blitz) and then just as it started to get interesting as her awareness of memory dawned more strongly, it ended!

I really enjoyed her earlier books but found the last few hard to maintain interest in. Shame because I like her writing style and the characters are always strong and well crafted.

mumslife Wed 16-Apr-14 09:05:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

itsnothingoriginal Wed 16-Apr-14 09:53:41

Yes mumslife - it just could have done with being a bit shorter and more punchy in parts. Hard not to get bogged down by it in the middle although she did certainly get across the horror of war from all angles.

I don't think it's a book I'll ever re-read!

Biscuitsneeded Thu 17-Apr-14 13:11:34

I found it compelling, especially after I'd got beyond the first part with so many versions of her birth. I loved the wartime London stuff. I'm not sure whether we're meant to think Ursula was consciously learning from her mistakes and choosing a different outcome each time, or whether she's just saying that life is a succession of chance and random events, and could take any one of a number of paths at any moment - so there are almost unlimited stories one could tell about Ursula. I found it very clever that when she was killed in the air raid the same scene then played almost identically but with another character being killed. All the deaths were characteristically graphic and shocking, and moving, and yet because you knew an alternative version was probably coming up you could remain somehow detached from them - apart from Anthony the bike boy - that one had me in tears.

sleepyhead Thu 17-Apr-14 13:24:36

I finished it last night as well. I loved it - best thing I've read for a while.

I think towards the end she did know. The last couple of times she was making conscious decisions about her path, and didn't she deliberately kill herself to set up the life where she befriends Eva to meet Hitler?

Why does Teddy thank her when he gets back from the war though? I wondered if Sylvie was doing the same thing cf the last chapter when she uses the scissors and says "practice makes perfect".

sleepyhead Thu 17-Apr-14 13:27:00

And if she is conscious, can she ever die and stop the cycle of rebirth? I should imagine it would get pretty horrific reliving your life after a while. Even after she kills Hitler, she's shot, reborn and it's all to do again confused

mumslife Thu 17-Apr-14 18:39:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pepperrabbit Thu 17-Apr-14 18:51:57

I finished it this week too, I thoroughly enjoyed it having not read any of her books for a couple years.
I did get a bit cross with starting again in Berlin, and I enjoyed the slight variations of the different scenes, especially the falling wall. Also her desperate attempts to stop Bridget going to London ("darkness etc..") Some of the war scenes were very upsetting and vivid.
But I think my favourite character was Pamela actually.

Flyingducky Thu 17-Apr-14 19:03:39

I finished this book yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Especially liked the way she left quite a lot of unanswered questions. I liked Sylvie as a character and was intrigued by her duplicity.

I wonder if she will answer some of them in her next book. I heard her being interviewed and she spoke about writing teddys story next.

Burmahere Thu 17-Apr-14 23:00:43

I did enjoy it although felt she didn't have control or particularly 'know' that she was living a different life apart from vague feelings of deja vu.

I took it more to mean that we all think we are going down certain paths but every day almost everything we do could have an alternative outcome which in turn affects everyone else to a degree.

It was a fascinating concept although not sure she pulled it off entirely successfully. The blitz scenes were just relentless and really did put across well just how long it went on for and how grim it must have been sad.

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