Friday, February 3, 2017

Life After Life

Written by Kate Atkinson, I considered abandoning this novel several times before I finally struggled through it. It is not in my character to close a book mid-stream. This novel just didn't appeal to me, though it came recommended.

Ursula Todd is born on a snowy February night in 1910. She is born dead. Yet, she is born on that night crying loudly and long, soon the picture of health. And so it continues. Ursula meets her end in a variety of ways; returns to that snowy night of 1910, and begins again. She is troubled with a sense of deja vu; so much so that her parents take her to see a psychiatrist. She goes to extremes to preserve her life, though she doesn't know that is what she is doing. She only feels she must do something to decrease the intense dread and anxiety building up. However, each decision changes the malleable past and there's more to keep track of, to "plan" for in the next go-round.  It's not true reincarnation, and it's not true time travel; it's more like "Groundhog Day" on a grand scale. The book ends where it begins: February, 1910. We're not left with any hope that Ursula got off her cosmic merry-go-round. I generally despise books with no hope. The premise is interesting and Atkinson followed it well; perhaps converting Ursula to a religion would have stopped the eternal carousel and given us all some hope in closure.

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