What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
This was the question posed by my first book club pick, Life after Life by Kate Atkinson.
I wanted my first pick to be something that would spark some good discussion, and also remove a book off of my lengthy “to-read” list on Goodreads. As a firm believer in fate, I constantly wonder “what if?” and was excited to read a book that tackled that exact subject.
Life after Life follows the story of Ursula Todd, an English girl that has an infinite amount of lives. Every time she dies (and she dies quite often at the beginning of the book) she comes back to life and is given the opportunity to change her destiny. While she doesn’t remember exactly causes her death, she has this sense that something is wrong, which is enough to enable her to make a different decision. Whether that decision was the right one or not is completely up to the reader.
I was relieved to find out that everyone that attended the “intimate” book club enjoyed Life after Life as much as I did. Some of Ursula’s lifetimes were really hard to stomach, but overall I think everyone enjoyed her journey. It was fascinating to experience both sides of World War II, and there were enough interesting characters to hold everyone’s
attention over 477 pages!
One of the major discussion points that came up at the meeting was whether we thought Ursula “got it right” at the end. Even when she made all of the “right” decisions, it is debatable whether it was the happy ending she wanted. It was also really interesting to see which events changed drastically based on her decisions, and which ones were completely unaffected.
As an aside, if you really liked the character of Teddy, Kate Atkinson just released her new book “A God in Ruins” that follows his life story. I’m curious to see how Ursula ties into the story, given how radically different some of her lifetimes ended up being. The reviews are quite positive, so it may be worth a look if you’re on the hunt for something new to read.