Life After Life

Life After Life

Book - 2013
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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.
Publisher: Toronto : Bond Street Books, c2013.
ISBN: 9780316176484
Branch Call Number: ATKIN
Characteristics: 473 p. ; 24 cm.


From Library Staff

ontherideau Oct 23, 2013

I felt a parallel as the reader who was reading the same story over and over. Did I lose my place or is this new?

From the critics

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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.

Nov 24, 2019

L. Hertzel

Oct 03, 2019

Unforgettable book. I listened to this one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not for those who dislike different POV.

Aug 26, 2019

Tea & Talk Book Club / November 2016

May 17, 2019

0. Couldn't read.

May 11, 2019

I read "a God in Ruins" before "Life after Life", and although they are stand-alone books, they do involve the same family. I doubt I would have read "a God in Ruins" if I'd already read "Life after Life", as I wouldn't have believed the narrative in "a God in Ruins" after reading "Life after Life". Although both books do provide some fascinating (and horrifying) accounts of the reality of the Great war (WWI) and WWII, and the Todd family et al are interesting characters, I felt that the author went overboard with the constant reinvention of Ursula's life. While a very interesting premise for a novel, I felt it could have been shorter in length, as I lost interest about 3/4 of the way through, but plodded on until the end.

Mar 25, 2019

This is a must-read. It throws you all over the place in a good way. Got through it in two days.

Mar 03, 2019

From this fascinating book, I come away with the thought that our lives hang by threads and could easily have been different. Of course in real life time is linear and unalterable, but in our minds we imagine differently.

John Whittier wrote, "For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'."

The book is confusing, jumping around in time and place. These websites are helpful: and
Each has a plot summary and list of characters. Also, I like the author's comments.

One reader complained about the quotes from foreign languages. Yes, the author was snobbish to omit translations. These can be found on the Internet, either searching the quote or using Google translate (not reliable). For instance, in the chapter "Like a Fox in a Hole", the author describes a demonstration by desperate veterans and quotes Dante describing people going to hell:

"Si lunga tratta di gente, ch’i’ non averei creduto che morte tanta n’avesse disfatta."

I translate this: "Such a long procession of people; I never would have believed that death had undone so many." The implication is life can be like hell.

If you liked this book, read the sequel, A Life in Ruins.

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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."


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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.

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Mar 10, 2014

dkilrain thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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