No Other Tale The Same: Life After Life

After reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, my first impulse is to read it again because I didn't quite understand it all the first time. Atkinson's novel involves a heroine, Ursula Todd - whose story takes us through different lifetimes and time periods by the page. To be more specific, Ursula dies and then is reborn again, on countless occasions. In a sense, she gets second, third, fourth, and so on when it comes to chances.

At first I was reminded of the movie Groundhog Day. However, in that case, Bill Murray's character is aware of the fact that he has several shots to construct his perfect day. Ursula simply has a feeling of deja vu, a sense that she's lived some of these moments before - well, since she has. Atkinson makes the very interesting choice to set the book between 1910 and 1949 in England, making this unique book a work of historical fiction. In fact, the huge unanswered question at the end may just involve a gun and Hitler.

Although I joked that every couple of pages "darkness" would fall, meaning Ursula would die again, this is a very bold choice for an author to make, and I respect it immensely. Now that I have the entire picture, I need to go back and re-read to make sure I understand how the different pieces fit together. As Ursula says to her therapist, "Time isn't circular, it's like a palimpsest". I've never heard that word before. Merriam Webster defines palimpsest as "a very old document on which the original writing has been erased and replaced with new writing" and "something that has changed over time and shows evidence of that change". In this novel, both cases are true. This novel will keep you on your toes! Has anyone out there read it? If so, what did you think?