The background: I’ve challenged Big to read 52 books this year. She will probably be mentioning them over here on her blog. I’m also going to have a crack at reading at least 52 books myself, and more importantly, I’m going to keep track of what books I’m reading to the little ones. I’m going to do all of that in a weekly post, and I’ve also set up a google plus community which you’re very welcome to join. (If you need an invitation, leave me a comment using relevant email address – which will stay hidden.)
This week, I finally managed to finish Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I hate trying to write up reviews for books I didn’t utterly love. And yet on some levels I did love this book. The language, the style of writing, is utterly delicious. I’ve said before that I think it’s Rumer Godden that it reminds me of, though I’m not quite sure why, and I don’t have any of my Rumer Godden’s to hand to glance through to see if I can identify it.
The premise is simple. What if instead of one life and one death, when you die, you get to come back and try over? Life after death after life after death. Practise makes perfect, Ursula gets premonitions, or deja vue when she gets to a cusp moment where it has all gone wrong before. She can take a different path – not crawl out on the roof, stave off the darkness for a little longer. So in a series of lives, she plots the downfall of a man that so many people think should never have lived…
but that doesn’t appear to have been the perfect life and she gets to keep going.
There were some aspects of this book that felt like a betrayal. There is one loop that involves casual rape of a 16 year old, who goes on to find herself pregnant, then has an abortion, not knowing what that is. That life then spirals out of control, including brutal domestic violence. I don’t know why this filled me with such distaste. Obviously the subject matter is unpleasant, but the behaviour of the other characters around this instance, the mother in particular, didn’t ring true for me, and, yes, I think betrayal is the word. I like my stories to have an internal consistency, and there was something about this particular part of it all that really didn’t. And yet, if it wasn’t authentic and plausible, I suppose I could have just dismissed it and moved on.
I suppose the justification is that if you are exploring all possibilities of a life, then this kind of incident will be inevitable. I’m not sure that’s sufficient justification in a book that does include all sorts of other unhappinesses given that there are mainly detailed paths through the second world war. I’d really appreciate anyone else who has read it chiming in with their thoughts.
And to the giveaway. I’ve three books on offer today. If I’ve five commenters, there will be one prize, 10 two prizes, and 15 or more three prizes. (If I make 20 commenters I’ll find something else to add, I’m that good to you!) The first winner will be able to choose from these books, Stay Close to me, Little Sister, The Secret Daughter (see pics below for full details), and second from what’s left and so on – I hope that makes sense!
The competition closes next Thursday 7th February at midnight so that I can announce the winner next Friday. And you can have an extra entry for sharing this post, using the badge or joining the linky with your own Read52 post – but you must leave an extra comment for each thing you’ve done, telling me what it is. As I’m doing the posting, I’m afraid it’s only open to UK – but if you’re international and happy to arrange to have it posted on you can do that – I’m only sending to a UK address. Draw will be made using the lovely plugin and
the winner is, which relies on separate comment entries.
Enter the linky.
ps. I understand it’s awards season. I think I’d quite like to be award winning. If you like my blog and think it’s worthy, feel free to nominate me. But this is a begging free zone, so that’s your lot, no begging.