I finally solved the dilemma of whether to review this book by the deadline without finishing it or to finish it and post the review late. I compromised my principles in order to be able to do the novel the justice it deserves. Here is my review of this absorbing novel.
With the benefit of hindsight, we would often live our lives differently, make different choices, follow alternative paths. But we can’t. The past cannot be changed and we have to live with the consequences of our decisions and actions. In Life After Life, Kate Atkinson explores what might happen if we had the opportunity to live our life again and again until we got it right.
Set against the backdrop of the first half of the twentieth century, the narrative flows effortlessly and seamlessly backwards and forwards through time like the ebbing and flowing of a tide. This could be confusing if Atkinson didn’t handle these shifts so adeptly, dropping and picking up threads with an ease that carried me with it. I found the effect both alluring and reassuring.
I particularly liked her presentation of the numerous characters, each one being distinctly drawn with their own particular traits and foibles that made them seem both completely real and instantly recognisable.
The settings, be they the ‘idyllic’ English countryside, Nazi Germany or London during the Blitz, are vividly brought to life so that I felt I was there, a bystander witnessing the scenes unfold.
This is an interesting, thought-provoking, clever and extremely well-written novel. It is, in my opinion, Kate Atkinson’s best yet.
It was lovely to receive this book from Waterstones but how fantastic that it is probably going to be the best book I read all year!