Life After Life

Life After Life

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
Publisher: London : Doubleday, 2013.
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 477 p. ;,24 cm.
Notes: Companion to: A god in ruins.


From Library Staff

Kate Atkinson takes all the ingredients of a classic saga and introduces an intriguing plot device: Born in 1910, Ursula Todd gets to live her life over and over again, each time in slightly different circumstances. Far from repetitive, this story is a compelling account of life in Britain during... Read More »

How our choices influence the lives we lead.
Also a really good recount of The Blitz - eye opening.

An hugely engaging historical snivel-fest with a "Timey Wimey" twist. Life after life has featured prominently in best reads lists and deservedly so.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 28, 2021

The writing was beautiful and intelligent, the story was creative and unique and the characters were well developed....each one playing an important part in the story.

Mar 25, 2021

I often read books and quickly forget about them. I will remember this book. Interesting and an easy, engaging read. Great family dynamics. "Practice makes perfect" and deja vu take on a whole new meaning after reading this book

Feb 01, 2021

D/l audio

Aug 26, 2020

Three stars! At first the plot was intriguing, but then the variations of her deaths and assaults seemed unnecessary. I felt like I was being dragged through a list of "how-else-could-she die." I almost stopped reading. Then, Ursula Todd finally realizes that her re-lived life could be headed for a significant purpose. The decisive action she takes is predictable but interesting. Even so, this grand action almost seems like a separate piece of writing. It could have been written as a stand-alone short story. As a reader, I didn't find this grand final action to be a big enough prize for having waded through all that death and victimization.

Aug 19, 2020

One of my all-time favorite books

bookishdl May 28, 2020

I'm at a loss to explain why I love this complicated, unusual and engaging novel. I'm a huge fan of multi-time narratives and when done well, they're astonishing but they can also fall flat when the author is sloppy. this isn't sloppy by any means. This is intricate, sophisticated, dizzying, multi-layered and beautifully written.

I love the idea of being able to go back and take a different action to change the course of events and who hasn't asked themselves "what if?" on so many occasions. I was completely invested in all the characters and willed a situation to be revisited to change the outcome.

I raced to the end but conversely didn't want it to end as I was enthralled with the repeating of a moment in time and what could happen next. I think this novel will stay with me for quite some time.

Mar 01, 2020

The book has an interesting premise in that Ursula Todd is born in 1910 and dies and is reborn over and over again with slightly different circumstances and opportunities. Though other reviews marvel over the uniqueness of the narrative, I found the book to be a tedious read—particularly in the World War II sections that just wouldn’t end. The book would have benefitted from better editing.

Feb 19, 2020

It took me a while to get into this novel but once I did I was taken by it. An innovative form is carried by Atkinson's Yorkshire sense of humour, and her adroit characterization of the central characters. Looking forward to the second novel in this series.

Feb 17, 2020

Insta recommended

Nov 24, 2019

I am irresistibly reminded of the 2 volume novel "Blackout" and "All Clear" by Connie Willis. Both Willis' works and this novel evoke a sense of place wonderfully, England in the Second World War. The overlap of lives, dancing between possible futures, works very well. I liked the attention to detail ... the ARP routines, the survival suit ... and the references to the poets (e.g. Marvell, Donne) and the occasional nods to other languages. It makes you think. Do try the Willis books as well.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Sep 14, 2015

Life is too precious to be unhappy.

Aug 05, 2015

"He's always been a politician. He was born a politician." No, Ursula thought, he was born a baby, like everyone else. And this is what he has chosen to become.

Jul 15, 2015

It's time she thought. A clock struck somewhere in sympathy. She thought of Teddy and Mrs. Woolf, of Roland and little Angela, of Nancy and Sylvie. She thought of Dr. Kellet and Pindar. Become such as you are, having learned what is. She knew what she was now. She was Ursula Beresford Todd and she was a witness.

debwalker Jul 08, 2014

Fur sie, fuhrer.

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Darkness fell."

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Home," it had struck her on the torturous drive back to London, wasn't Egerton Gardens, wasn't even Fox Corner. Home was an idea, and like Arcadia it was lost in the past."

Jun 10, 2013

"They had triumphed over death this night. Sylvie wondered when death would seek his revenge."


Add a Summary
cindyhib Sep 09, 2014

ery Confusing!!!!

Mar 10, 2014

This is the first book I have read by this author. I will definitely read another book by her as her style of writing is great. However, this book was a bit hard to follow. The basic premise is to show what would happen if you could relive events in your life until you got them right. The concept is great, but a bit cumbersome in the execution. You end up having chapter after chapter of the same events happening with different outcomes. The net result is you are left with a story that has no real linear story as you aren't sure what this person's life really ended up being. In the end it seems there would be some sort of tying together of all the elements. However there was not, and the reader is left hanging in the air, which is frustrating slogging through a fairly dense book. This would be a great book for a book club though as there is lots of food for thought.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Mar 10, 2014

dkilrain thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top