This summer I am taking a hiatus from my monthly book review column in the local newspaper, and I am using this opportunity to catch up some of the novels I have skipped over the past few years. When I am planning to write a column every month most of my reading is focused on books that I think I may be able to turn into a column. Many books I want to read end up falling by the wayside, either because they have already gotten a bunch of attention or because they are so long that I feel like I can’t invest the reading time. The first book up was Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, which I had been looking forward to since it was published back in 2013.
I am a big fan of Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series of mysteries and I love historical fiction (especially when it focuses on the lives of women), so I expected to enjoy Life After Life, but it exceeded my high expectations.
I worried that the literary reincarnation gimmick would become tedious, but it was so well done that I loved it. Ursula is such a well-drawn, complex character, and it is fascinating to look at the 20th events of the early/mid-20th century through her many lives and choices. It’s not a short book, at over 500 pages, but I could have kept reading different iterations of Ursula’s life for far longer than that. Maybe reading A God in Ruins will help, although I am disappointed that it does not carry over the reincarnation plot. Life After Life was well worth the wait and more than lived up to all the hype. It’s one of my favorite novels of the past few years, and one I plan to read again someday.