review by Maryom
On a snowy February day in 1910 a baby is born - not once, but a second, a third, an infinite number of times. This baby, Ursula Todd, has an amazing gift - to be able to relive her life; to go back to the moment of birth and try again - to find love, happiness, to alter events at a small personal level or create a wider impact and change the world.
Happy Ever After isn't easily found though. Death and disaster are waiting in many guises - a world war, flu epidemic, strangers lurking in country lanes, another war.... averting one danger leads straight to another.
You might expect a novel to have a sad, tear-jerker of an ending; you might expect a few poignant moments along the way; but Life After Life positively bombards the reader with them. It's "Death and again death" as Virginia Woolf says: sometimes unwanted or unexpected, sometimes welcomed. Strangely in view of this, the overall feel is of something tremendously life-affirming. Ursula strives so hard to find a happy way through life and I just found myself urging her on in her attempts. The same people and scenes re-occur over Ursula's many life-times, weaving in and out with greater or lesser impact.
A book for anyone who's ever wondered Did I make the right decision? What would have happened if I'd chosen X instead of Y? Much as I love Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books, this is a return to more thought-provoking story telling. I was torn between savouring every moment and finding out how it would all end. A stunning, emotion packed read and I'd challenge anyone to not be moved.
Maryom's Review - 5 stars
Publisher: Transworld Books
Genre: Adult, literary
Buy Life After Life
from Amazon (pre order till March 2013)