Life After Life

lifeafterlifeI genuinely think this book is mis-titled.  It should be called “Death After Death”.

Going in to reading the book I knew the general premise of the book.  Every time Ursula dies she is born again at the same time as her first birth.  So, like the Groundhog Day of the literary world.

I knew that this would raise all of the questions of whether her changing her actions would alter history and how she would remember things from one life to the next.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how emotionally draining it is to have the main character die again and again.  Every few pages she would die and you’d be back to 1910.

Later in the book her circumstances become so bad that I started hoping she would kill herself to escape the situation.  She’s just re-emerge in 1910, right?

The most emotionally trying part of the book was the Blitz.  I realize the death tolls were high in London, particularly in certain areas, but to have the same woman die repeatedly in the same incident was hard to get through.

I still don’t totally understand whether or how Ursula’s actions were able to change history.  While sometimes changes lasted from one life to the next, then sometimes they would revert to the original outcome in later lives.  I would also get confused as to what had happened in the current life, since the same scenarios played out again and again, often only with slight variations.

Isn’t this somehow insanity to keep reliving the same life again and again trying to remember everything you need to do to keep bad things from happening?  To carry the fate of your friends on your shoulders?

I’m still not sure what I thought of the book.  Since it was 529 pages, I must have liked it because I finished it.  It was a haunting book.  It was a frustrating book.  Because each life was slightly different, I found myself liking certain characters in certain lives and not in others.  I think I found it a tiring book.

I’m not sure I would pronounce this the best book of the year.  It’s definitely well written and the premise is interesting.  Ask me again in a few weeks what I think.  It’s that kind of book.


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