Life After Life

Life After Life - Kate Atkinson I expected something really great from this book. After all, it had such outstanding reviews on its dust cover as well as such a high rating, and won the Goodreads Best Book of the Year in historical fiction. Perhaps it’s the fact this that’s what this book was – a historical fiction novel. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate or understand the message the author intended the reader to pick up and see. Whatever it was, I just didn’t enjoy this book, and it was, by far, the greatest disappointment in my reading this year. There were others before it that I expected a lot from but didn’t get desired out of it. This one fell flat completely for me. It was such a challenge to get through it that I didn’t have the strength to even finish the last hundred pages, mainly because I frankly didn’t care how it would end.

I didn’t like a single character in this book each for different reasons and some being less major (and perhaps sillier) than others. Of course they were written very appropriately for their time period, but I didn’t enjoy reading about them nonetheless. And Ursula, who had the job of appealing to the reader since she was the main character, felt like a dead goose the entire read. Her deaths and then the correction of the events leading to that particular death were quite cleverly done, but that was perhaps the only thing about her that I did like, in fact it was more related to the author’s choice that the character’s. She was flat for me, someone I was reading about on the surface but didn’t really know, or even want to know.

Another issue that arose was the cycle of her deaths and resurrections. I partially understood the idea of how our actions impact our outcomes, but it didn’t feel like such a dominant piece to the story the way people were so raving about it. I’ll discount the fact that there was probably more to it in the end, which I didn’t end up getting to, but after reading the majority of the novel I think there was enough time and places for the theme to be more dominant.

The one plus of this book was the writing itself which made me want to force on and read as much of the book as I did. As much as I felt the storyline lacked and the characters were unappealing, I do love books that describe everything as well as offer a lot of the characters’ thoughts, personalities, and history. This the book did, and quite well at that. After this I was left seeing the problem as being a boring storyline written in quite a beautiful manner.

I doubt there is anything else I can add. It was completely not up my alley although I don’t regret picking it up. It broadened, as I’ve said before, my horizon and view on literature. Perhaps this one I’ll even revisit in the future and more life experience will allow me to see deeper into it, but right now I’m left sitting at the surface and sighing for something I hoped for but didn’t get. And again I realize one lesson: a book with a high rating won’t necessarily be a good book for every person.