What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can - will she?
Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original - this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
Be Ye Men of Valor
A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the café. She had come in from the rain and drops of water still trembled like delicate dew on the fur coats of some of the women inside. A regiment of white-aproned waiters rushed around at tempo, serving the needs of the Münchner at leisurecoffee, cake and gossip.
He was at a table at the far end of the room, surrounded by the usual cohorts and toadies. There was a woman she had never seen beforea permed, platinum blonde with heavy makeupan actress by the look of her. The blond lit a cigarette, making a phallic performance out of it. Everyone knew that he preferred his women demure and whole-some, Bavarian preferably. All those dirndls and knee-socks, God help us.
The table was laden. Bienenstich, Gugelhupf, Käsekuchen. He was eating a slice of Kirschtorte. He loved his cakes. No wonder he looked so pasty, she was ...
Reviewing a book with a divided mind is not easy. Do I say that the writing here is of the highest quality, that the settings are vivid? Yes. That even the complex structure and repetition serve a purpose? Yes, again. But will I also be transparent enough to say that the story wearied me, that it began to overwhelm? I must.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (1005 words).
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 period known as the Battle of Britain. During the Blitz, bombing raids instead focused on civilian and industrial targets in London and other cities. It is estimated that over 40,000 civilians were killed, with many more...
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