Ursula is born on a snowy night in 1910. Or she should be; sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way. Once, the doctor didn’t make it in time, and Ursula died in 1910. Another time, she drowns five years later while on holiday and once she takes her own life in Nazi Germany with her daughter.
Life after Life is a story of the twists and turns our lives take; the possibilities that arise when we make one decision over another. Action or inaction changes Ursula’s future. Atkinson has brilliantly created a plot where over time, you can see where the turning points are. Sometimes they are incidental, and other times they are obvious. Yet together, they carve out Ursula’s future, and reveal the person she will become, and what will ultimately be her fate.
In addition to this, as the lives continue, Ursula becomes aware of her past lives existence. One of the crucial turning points is the maid catching influenza. Ursula dies of influenza many times, and as this keeps occurring, she starts to know something must be done, her sense becoming keener until she pushes her maid down the stairs to prevent her from leaving the house.
Some lives are cut short; others are heartbreakingly tragic and full of despair, while others are rich and full of the joys and sadness we all experience. She experiences two wars, and sometimes lives through both. Some lives are repeated until she makes the correct choice while others are lived once and that is enough.
This was a fascinating and well written novel that I enjoyed completely. I heartily recommend it.