[Atkinson's] very best…a big book that defies logic, chronology and even history in ways that underscore its author's fully untethered imagination…[it] is full of mind games, but they are purposeful rather than emptily playful…Even without the sleight of hand, Life After Life would be an exceptionally captivating book with an engaging cast of characters.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Atkinson’s new novel (after Started Early, Took My Dog) opens twice: first in Germany in 1930 with an English woman taking a shot at Hitler, then in England in 1910 when a baby arrives, stillborn. And then it opens again: still in 1910, still in England, but this time the baby lives. That baby is Ursula Todd, and as she grows up, she dies and lives repeatedly. .... [H]alf the book is given over to Ursula’s activities during WWII, and....through Ursula’s many lives and the accretion of what T.S. Eliot called “visions and revisions,” she’s found an inventive way to make both the war’s toll and the pull of alternate history, of darkness avoided or diminished, fresh.
If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler, would you?... [Atkinson's]protagonist's encounter with der Führer is just one of several possible futures. Call it a more learned version of Groundhog Day, but that character can die at birth, or she can flourish and blossom; she can be wealthy, or she can be a fugitive; she can be the victim of rape, or she can choose her sexual destiny. All these possibilities arise, and all take the story in different directions, as if to say: We scarcely know ourselves, so what do we know of the lives of those who came before us.... Provocative, entertaining and beautifully written. It's not quite the tour de force that her Case Histories (2004) was, but this latest affords the happy sight of seeing Atkinson stretch out into speculative territory again.
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