Book Review: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


Title:  Life After Life

Author:  Kate Atkinson (Author Website)

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)

Pages: 544

Format: Advance Copy provided by the publisher via

About the Book: (from publisher)

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?
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

About the Author:


Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who also made a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.

Related Media:  Book Trailer


My Review:  I believe this is the first book by Kate Atkinson that I have read.  I must say her writing was outstanding.  I love the concept/ story line of Life After Life.  The whole idea of being able to relive your life with a bit of hind sight is intriguing.  What might you do differently if you would have known what you now know??

Life After Life takes place between 1910 and 1960.  Atkinson superbly portrays this era in history  both in London and Germany.   The main character Ursula was very well developed as were the lesser characters in Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.   I had a bit of difficulty connecting to Ursula as each “new” Ursula was a a little different than the previous one due that Ursula’s past experiences.  This left me with a bit of confusion and a disjointed feeling initially.  But once I got a feel for this I saw how each life added another layer to the story. 

As a social worker I was fascinated by Ursula’s story and the impact a small change or decision would make of the final outcome of her life.  It is amazing how a even a small change can rewrite history.  We have so many choices in life and you never really know how a different choice may impact your life. While in life we may experience hind sight, we don’t get the chance to use that gained knowledge to change our future.   Would be interesting if we could. 

Kate Atkinson crafts her story in such a manner that the reader truly does experience that feeling of déjà vu when reading Life After Life.   This ability to provide the reader with that experience shows the true writing talent of Kate Atkinson.  But this is where I might delineate from my fellow book bloggers…I found the end of one of Ursula’s life to the next very disheartening.  Once I would start reading again and would be at a similar place and the story took a different path I found this very disjointed.   I am a casual reader at heart and like a nice flow to the story.   While Life After Life is amazingly written, I really missed the continuous flow of the story.  In my opinion, Life After Life had many starts and ends within the telling of the story that decreased my enjoyment of getting lost in the story.  This in part could have been due to the fact that I read bits of the story at a time due to my busy schedule and that might have taken away from my overall experience of the book. I think Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is best read in large chucks of time.

My Rating: 4 – I would recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson as the characters and writing are amazing and the concept of the story fresh and unique.  I really enjoyed the attention made to the details of the historical significance of the setting.   Life After Life would make for a great book group discussion. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Other Bloggers Reviews :


The Bookstop

Book Magnet

Kevin From Canada 


Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Advance copy of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.






  1. Kristen Avatar

    So many books right now tackle the idea of multiple realities or reliving decisions or lives. It's definitely an interesting trend.

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