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Book club: Life After Life

April 5, 2013

Life After Life

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny?

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant–this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

My book club was lucky enough to have the opportunity to read galleys of Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, for our March meeting.  We met last month to discuss the book and, when I learned everyone liked the book, I was a little worried since we don’t have the best discussions when we all agree.  Well, it turns out, I worried for nothing – I think we had one of our best discussions ever!

Before we started chatting about the book, one member told us she’d already read the book twice and another said she couldn’t put the book down once she started it!   Life After Life is a smart, intricately woven story full of subtleties so we spent a lot of time talking about specific events in the book.  We were all flipping through our books to find quotes when we wanted to make a point and I saw I wasn’t the only one who’d marked passages.

This book is all about the way events (some large and some seemingly small) affect our lives and the lives of others and we discussed if, and what, we would change in our past, given the chance.  We also discussed the characters in the book and if we thought they were aware of what was happening and, if so, if they had any control over it.

If you’re looking for a great book for your book club, grab Life After Life!  It begs to be discussed.  Even after chatting with my book club about it, I couldn’t wait to talk with Julie of Booking Mama about it after she finished reading it.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2013 6:41 am

    People are just so excited about this one! I have to get a copy!

  2. therelentlessreader permalink
    April 5, 2013 7:16 am

    This book is buzzing isn’t it? 🙂 I keep hearing wonderful things. I’d better get my hands on a copy soon!

  3. April 5, 2013 7:59 am

    I better get to this one soon! Sounds like something I’d love, especially when I hear that it was such a hit with your book club.

  4. April 5, 2013 9:35 am

    I think I just found my book club pick for June. (except I’ll probably read it before then). I haven’t heard one bad thing about it. It’s funny that you mention your best book club discussions are usually with books not everyone enjoyed…’s true with mine too.

  5. April 5, 2013 9:50 am

    I can see why it was a hit with your book group. I really liked it!

  6. April 5, 2013 10:20 am

    If you and Julie were blabbing over the phone about it, then I surely MUST read it soon!

  7. April 5, 2013 1:13 pm

    This is definitely a book that will ignite discussion.

  8. April 5, 2013 1:18 pm

    This sounds interesting, and it’s always great to have a good book club recommendation that every likes *and* can find things to talk about! I’m putting it on my list to recommend for next year’s book club.

  9. April 5, 2013 1:54 pm

    I’m adding this one to my wish list!

  10. April 5, 2013 2:29 pm

    This one has been on my horizon for a while and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was just being suckered by a good cover. Good to know there is substance there and you’ve made up my mind for me….I’ll get it.

  11. April 5, 2013 2:38 pm

    I’ve read so much about this one, I must read it.

  12. lab1990 permalink
    April 5, 2013 2:45 pm

    That’s awesome your whole book club loved it and were able to find so much to discuss. Always a good sign!!!

    Lauren from

  13. April 5, 2013 4:05 pm

    I’m definitely going to lobby for this one at my next book club meeting. It sounds perfect for my group’s tastes. Thanks for introducing me to it!

  14. April 5, 2013 4:26 pm

    I don’t have a book club but this sounds fantastic … A unique concept.

  15. Patty permalink
    April 5, 2013 5:28 pm

    This sounds like so much fun! I love your book club! I love that book!

  16. April 5, 2013 6:01 pm

    Life After Life sounds fantastic! I’ll have to add it to my wishlist.

  17. April 5, 2013 7:46 pm

    Your post makes we wish two things:

    1. To read Life After Life
    2. To start a book club

    I think I will make the first come true.

    Terrific review, Kathy. This book sounds FABULOUS!

  18. April 5, 2013 8:31 pm

    This sounds so different but really good, fab review. Will need to keep an eye out for it.


  19. April 5, 2013 8:39 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out what the book’s about but if all members of your book club liked it then that says a lot. I’m going to look into this one.

  20. April 5, 2013 9:20 pm

    Definitely a book club book!

  21. redladysreadingroom permalink
    April 5, 2013 9:55 pm

    I’ve never read a book by Atkinson and your review has made me interested in picking this up. That is rare when everyone in a book club likes a book and that members reread the book!!

  22. bookingmama permalink
    April 6, 2013 9:39 am

    One of the best potential discussion books ever.

  23. April 6, 2013 2:53 pm

    Sounds great – just added my name to the library hold list!

  24. April 6, 2013 7:26 pm

    I really want to read this one!! And I loved hearing all the thoughts from your sister & your book club – fun. Sounds like a book that begs to be discussed!

  25. April 7, 2013 2:29 am

    I am so glad you loved this one, as it is on its way to me right now! Sounds like you had a great time reading it.

  26. April 7, 2013 7:10 am

    This is sitting in my TBR ASAP pile. I’m very, very curious about it.

  27. April 7, 2013 11:20 am

    I can’t wait to read this one. Do you plan to read to book of same title by Jill McCorkle?

  28. April 7, 2013 6:44 pm

    I love it when book club discussions flow and click!

  29. April 7, 2013 7:02 pm

    Wow!! I would have loved to been there! This is one book that I keep reading more and more positive reviews about and I so want to get my hands on it!

  30. April 7, 2013 9:10 pm

    Oh I just loved this book and I would think there would be TONS to talk about. One thing I want to ask YOU is whether you think that Sylvie was having similar experiences as Ursula?

  31. April 7, 2013 10:13 pm

    Next book on my reading stack! I can’t wait to get into it now that I’ve read your review! :]

  32. April 8, 2013 11:55 am

    Yeah I’m not too sure what to think of a person dying over and over again as a premise. But if it’s supposed to be great, I guess I should check it out.

  33. April 8, 2013 11:34 pm

    A friend in publishing just sent me this book becauses she liked it so much. It wasn’t even from her publishing house!

  34. April 10, 2013 10:32 am

    This was the first time I had read Atkinson and I loved it! I can’t wait to read more by her!

  35. April 10, 2013 2:44 pm

    I liked the words and sentences you used today from this book in your Wondrous Words post that I had to see what you thought of the book as a whole. What a great endorsement – both you and your whole book club liked it. Now I have to find a copy and read it for myself. I may recommend it to my book club too.

    (Sorry to be so late in reading this post. Lots of “life” going on in my world and I’ve had to let my blog-post reading slide for a while.)

  36. April 12, 2013 2:27 pm

    I so so so want to read this one and I really want to suggest it to my book club but I also don’t want to pay the $30 for a hardcover. I know, but I’m still finding it more and more difficult to justify the cost of a book. Glad you’re book club enjoyed it so much!

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