Book Review: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Life after LifeWhat’s it about?

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

My thoughts

This book had been sitting on my Kindle for well over a year but I felt I had to read it when A God in Ruins was chosen as our next book club read. They’re both lengthy books so I just hoped I’d have enough time to squeeze them both in.

It took a while to get into the book; what with the changing time line and the several deaths of Ursula Todd I seemed to be reading constantly but making little progress which I did find frustrating.

Having said that, it’s a very cleverly interwoven plot with the author creating several alternative lives for Ursula that span WW1 & WW2 with some of the other character’s stories staying almost identical, while some change considerably.  At least 3 of her lives were quite traumatic and I found myself almost hoping that she would die and this wouldn’t be her last life.

The blurb would have you believe that she was able to change her future lives but I didn’t interpret it like that. I don’t think she was ever truly aware of what was happening to her and therefore able to make constructive changes next time in her lives…I believed it to be down to chance.

The bombing scenes during the Blitz were particularly heartbreaking, atmospheric and realistic; these were the best parts of the book for me as they made me read a lot faster to find out what happens.

In all honesty it’s not the best book to read on a Kindle as I wanted to skip back to previous chapters and find certain passages but that would have been more of a hassle.  Overall, all very Groundhog Day and Butterfly Effect-ish and I think if you enjoyed The Versions of Us you will like this intelligently constructed novel.  If you do have a go at this, don’t give up. It’s worth persevering to the end.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Kate Atkinson

Website | Facebook


  1. 3rd February 2016 / 11:18 am

    I really enjoyed Life after Life. It certainly got me thinking Lindsay.

    Look forward to reading your thoughts on A God in Ruins.

    Fab review x

    • 3rd February 2016 / 12:29 pm

      Thanks Shaz. I’m glad I read it first because I don’t think I would have picked it up after reading AGIR. Whilst very clever, interesting books they take some reading 🙂

  2. 4th February 2016 / 3:42 am

    Great review. I’m pretty bummed that the main character wasn’t able to change her lives or have constructive knowledge of her previous life. That was the main reason I would have been interested in the book. I’m happy you liked it though 🙂

    • 4th February 2016 / 9:18 am

      I have to say, that was just my interpretation because I’ve read other reviews since finishing and others thought otherwise!! I guess we all take something different away from a book 🙂

      • 5th February 2016 / 2:59 pm

        Idk about you, but I always feel surprised when I look at reviews and see people feel the opposite of me. Makes me wonder what I missed. I think I would share your opinion on this book though 😉

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