‘Life after Life’ is thought-provoking. That’s the only word for it. The story, and its premise, were on my mind for days after I put the book down, wondering what I would have done and whether such an occurrence was possible. The occurrence being Ursula living her life over and over again, each time a little different as she remembers snippets of her past life and is able to overcome obstacles that had prevented her from succeeding in the past. Indeed, some of my favourite parts were when the story went back and Ursula attempted to change her life in different ways.
The setting of the novel in World War Two added an extra element, with Ursula finding herself on both sides of the war due to changes in different lives. This was fascinating as it provided a comparison between two sides of the war and showed how multiple characters were effected by one characters actions, and then how some people ended up with the same fate regardless of what the other did.
The novel does slow in places, particularly with the repetition of her birth. There are only so many ways you can rewrite the same scene, even with the occasional change. However, this is counteracted by the whole sense of ‘what if?’ that permeates the novel and the depiction of how one single choice can change everything.
The ending is pleasing, closing the book but still leaving questions that rattle around your brain for a while. Not to mention, Ursula grows on you as a character (even if she does seem a little annoying in places) to the point where your are really routing for her to succeed. The surrounding characters, remaining constant throughout the novel and cropping up every so often, provide a root that keeps the novel from straying too far from its basic premise and its beginnings.
It is definitely a book I recommend. It is one that has kept me thinking but is still an easy enough read for the summer.