Nominated by:

The State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Toronto Public Library, Canada

Cape Breton Regional Library, Sydney, Canada

The Capital Library of China, Beijing

Limerick City Libraries, Ireland

Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand

Dunedin Public Libraries, New Zealand

Timaru District Libraries, New Zealand

Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow

Library of Birmingham, UK

Redbridge Libraries, London, UK

Boston Public Library, USA

Denver Public Library, USA

Milwaukee Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Bond Street Books, Canada

Doubleday, UK

Reagan Arthur, USA

Life After Life

Kate Atkinson      

2015 Longlist

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her latest novel Life After Life was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

Librarians’ Comments

We enjoyed the author’s writing style and her witty turn of phrase. She also uses an interesting narrative device that sees the drama retold with slightly different scenarios, meaning we get both sad and happy endings.

“What would you do if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” Kate Atkinson poses and answers this question in her masterful, structurally complex, and vividly realized novel about the many deaths and lives of Ursula Todd. In each iteration of Ursula’s life we see how her various identities and destinies – and by extension ours as well – are shaped by contingency, by the great and the small external forces of history, and by our own conscious choices.

“What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” This is the hope for everyone in the world. People will get to know they should do it right today before it’s too late.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is one of those books that takes you on a journey that you didn’t realise you wanted to take. It grips you from the first page and tips you headfirst into asking questions about your own life. A great read.

A compassionate and thought provoking book, highly inventive and suprising. This is a novel that we think deserves to be read and enjoyed.

This grips the imagination from the first page and never lets go! The author takes an ingenious idea and weaves it into a novel that explores one person’s life from many angles. It is perceptive and funny. The author manages to maintain a complex plot while still delivering a great read.

An extraordinary piece of work; clever, engaging and wonderfully written.

Ursula Todd is born in England in 1910, and in this unusual and superbly written novel she lives her life again and again form various stages. The writing is beautifully descriptive, witty, poignant and occasionally dark. The characters are believably and finely drawn.

Life After Life is a well written, beautifully constructed novel, that merges family saga with a fluid sense of time and an extraordinarily vivid sense of history at its most human level. With wit and compassion, the author finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments.

In this exceptionally original novel the purely fantastic concept (one may name it “plurality of potential lives”) is in absolute harmony with its artistic realization: in the course of narration the protagonist parts with her life for a number of times – just to start it anew, and each time her existence is trailed from birth to the moment of death. Only very slight, almost imperceptible differences hint that it may not be the same life as before. The overall impression is that life is a boon and a great mystery. The idea and structure are a real tour de force.

The story of Ursula Todd, born in 1910, but doomed to die and be reborn over and over again.

This novel has a truly creative structure. It is about Ursula Todd as she dies, is reborn, and then dies again and again allowing full exploration of truly human characters and an intricately planned plot. Beginning in 1910 the story covers difficult times in history, but avoids becoming too dark and instead takes a fresh look at the course of a life.

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