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by Kate Atkinson, read by Fennella Woolgar
Hachette Audio, May 2013
Unabridged pages
ISBN: 1619696967

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Ursula Todd is dead before even taking her first breath, coming out of her mother's womb with the umbilical cord around her neck. But that's only Ursula's first life. She gets a reset, and is born again. This time, the doctor manages to get to the family's country estate in England before a snowstorm can stop him, saving the baby's life.

But poor Ursula. Tragedy after tragedy follows, bringing death each time. Yet lucky Ursula, she gets chance after chance to live another life. Born in 1910 each time, each life is nevertheless slightly different. With a strong sense of déjà vu, Ursula is able to escape certain disasters, taking a different path each time. She may or may not influence world history, too. If there's a mystery element to this book, it's whether she will accomplish the act we see her completing in the prologue.

As she grows into adulthood, Ursula moves to London. It will take her several lives just to get through the London Blitz, which is one of the strongest pieces of the book, detailing the horrors of a war played out in European cities.

Not a linear story by any stretch, LIFE AFTER LIFE is more like a puzzle that has already been brilliantly constructed by the author. Written by an author who usually writes crime fiction, it is also a departure from her usual work in that it is more of a meditation on life - and second chances. It may make you consider your own life choices and what-ifs.

Some listeners may have a problem following an audiobook in which they cannot easily flip back to check a detail from a previous life. However, the audiobook narrator, Fennella Woolgar, does a beautiful job of laying out each life, and pulling the reader into it.

§ Lourdes Venard is a newspaper editor in Long Island, N.Y.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, February 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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