Gillian Flynn on Life After Life:
One of the best novels I’ve read this century. Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren’t enough breathless adjectives to describe LIFE AFTER LIFE: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound.
My heart breaks a little reading such positive thoughts from one of my favorite authors about this book. Kate Atkinson draws you in with an intriguing hook:
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
I mean, they’ve made movies about this concept! The book also takes place in the early to mid 1900s, which is some of my favorite time. Now, let’s get into it…
My goodness. This book went on FOREVER. I thought it would be a bit about some reincarnation where someone comes back to the same timeline, but as different people. Boy, was I wrong. Life After Life follows the same girl/woman, Ursula, as she relives the “same” life over and over again. There are light allusions to “gut feelings” she has from where her previous lives have gone wrong. At one point, she goes to a bit of therapy.
I thought the psychiatrist was going to be a root of the story! I thought it would be so interesting for this to be a recurring theme amongst all of the lives, trying to figure out where things went wrong. NOPE!
Likely Some Harsh Words
It kind of felt like Ms. Atkinson didn’t have enough to write one story. She had the concept of someone growing up in the early 1900s and wrote a bunch of different potential storylines down. Then, she brainstormed on how best to attach them all, and turned it into almost 500 pages. If I understand the book correctly, her “right life” involved killing Hitler. But another of her lives involved becoming a German citizen in the time of Hitler’s power.
There were quite a few storylines in the book that were just so unnecessary! The details of a lot of them only came back very lightly in the last 10-15 pages. If she had written a novel that was more in-depth of those last 10-15 pages, I think I would have loved it.
Needless to say, this book will be going to my local 2nd & Charles. I’ve included some affiliate links, but I wouldn’t recommend buying Life After Life.