Years ago, when I was backpacking across India on my gap year, a girl I met called Hannah told me that Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson was her favourite book. I added it to my To Be Read list and bought a copy on my return to England. That was eight years ago, and I still have an unread copy of the book on my mantelpiece in London.
I have heard about Kate Atkinson numerous times since I was first recommended Behind the Scenes at the Museum, but it was only when I recently saw a tweet from Jamie Byng, founder of World Book Night, singing the praises of Atkinson’s latest novel Life After Life, that I decided it was time I read one of her books.
Ironically, Life After Life begins on my birthday – 11th February, albeit some years before I was born. The year is 1910, the night is snowy, and into the world comes Ursula Todd, born to a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. Yet on that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born and lives to tell the tale.
In this unique and captivating tale, Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she embarks upon a number of different lives, each of which are effected by the twists and turns of destiny. Showing how one small decision can wildly affect one’s future, Life After Life sees Ursula encounter heartbreak, death, passion and loss as the hand of fate deals her card.
With characters as profound and well crafted as those found in classics and an engaging plot, Life After Life is both a poignant and inventive tale. The perfect first foray into the work of Atkinson, it certainly won’t be my last.