As a fan of Kate Atkinson's inventive fiction, I should have known what I was getting myself into when I tackled reviewing her latest novel, Life After Life
. Yes, the book exceeds the five hundred-page mark and thus requires a certain commitment, but the long and sometimes exhausting mental journey springs primarily from Atkinson's cleverness in using unconventional structure to her advantage the pathway of the repeated lives of protagonist Ursula Todd.
Ursula, the story's unlikely heroine, is born and then dies
and then is born again in February 1910. She enters the world for the first time stillborn, but survives her birth in the very next chapter due to a slight change in chronology and weather a doctor makes it through a snowstorm just in time in the second version. And so goes the entire book and Ursula's many and varied...
Beyond the Book
A significant and arresting section in the second half of Life After Life
occurs during the period of the German bombings of London during World War II known as "The Blitz." This period between September 1940 and May 1941 was a time of fear, destruction and collective British determination. The nickname comes from the German word "Blitzkrieg" meaning "lightning war." The Blitz followed Germany's unsuccessful attempts, between July and September 1940, to weaken or eliminate the Royal Air Force's ability to defend Britain - a...