Life After Life

Life After Life

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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, and lets out a lusty wail. 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?
Publisher: New York : Reagan Arthur Books / Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
Edition: First United States edition.
ISBN: 9780316176484
Characteristics: xi, 529 pages ; 25 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

Cascadia Weekly review

Review of Life After Life in Cascadia Weekly (Wednesday, March 19, 2014) by WCLS Executive Director, Christine Perkins.

From Library Staff

10 of Spades - “If I had my life to live again …” Ursula Todd is born over and over into different versions of herself. But can she change the course of history?

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
bookishdl May 28, 2020

I'm at a loss to explain why I love this complicated, unusual and engaging novel. I'm a huge fan of multi-time narratives and when done well, they're astonishing but they can also fall flat when the author is sloppy. this isn't sloppy by any means. This is intricate, sophisticated, dizzying, multi-layered and beautifully written.

I love the idea of being able to go back and take a different action to change the course of events and who hasn't asked themselves "what if?" on so many occasions. I was completely invested in all the characters and willed a situation to be revisited to change the outcome.

I raced to the end but conversely didn't want it to end as I was enthralled with the repeating of a moment in time and what could happen next. I think this novel will stay with me for quite some time.

Mar 01, 2020

The book has an interesting premise in that Ursula Todd is born in 1910 and dies and is reborn over and over again with slightly different circumstances and opportunities. Though other reviews marvel over the uniqueness of the narrative, I found the book to be a tedious read—particularly in the World War II sections that just wouldn’t end. The book would have benefitted from better editing.

Feb 19, 2020

It took me a while to get into this novel but once I did I was taken by it. An innovative form is carried by Atkinson's Yorkshire sense of humour, and her adroit characterization of the central characters. Looking forward to the second novel in this series.

Feb 17, 2020

Insta recommended

Nov 24, 2019

I am irresistibly reminded of the 2 volume novel "Blackout" and "All Clear" by Connie Willis. Both Willis' works and this novel evoke a sense of place wonderfully, England in the Second World War. The overlap of lives, dancing between possible futures, works very well. I liked the attention to detail ... the ARP routines, the survival suit ... and the references to the poets (e.g. Marvell, Donne) and the occasional nods to other languages. It makes you think. Do try the Willis books as well.

Nov 24, 2019

L. Hertzel

Oct 20, 2019

What was the point?

Oct 03, 2019

Unforgettable book. I listened to this one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not for those who dislike different POV.

Aug 26, 2019

Tea & Talk Book Club / November 2016

Aug 11, 2019


View All Comments


Add a Quote
Sep 14, 2015

Life is too precious to be unhappy.

Aug 05, 2015

"He's always been a politician. He was born a politician." No, Ursula thought, he was born a baby, like everyone else. And this is what he has chosen to become.

Jul 15, 2015

It's time she thought. A clock struck somewhere in sympathy. She thought of Teddy and Mrs. Woolf, of Roland and little Angela, of Nancy and Sylvie. She thought of Dr. Kellet and Pindar. Become such as you are, having learned what is. She knew what she was now. She was Ursula Beresford Todd and she was a witness.

debwalker Jul 08, 2014

Fur sie, fuhrer.

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Darkness fell."

JCLJanineM Oct 28, 2013

"Home," it had struck her on the torturous drive back to London, wasn't Egerton Gardens, wasn't even Fox Corner. Home was an idea, and like Arcadia it was lost in the past."

Jun 10, 2013

"They had triumphed over death this night. Sylvie wondered when death would seek his revenge."


Add a Summary
cindyhib Sep 09, 2014

ery Confusing!!!!

Mar 10, 2014

This is the first book I have read by this author. I will definitely read another book by her as her style of writing is great. However, this book was a bit hard to follow. The basic premise is to show what would happen if you could relive events in your life until you got them right. The concept is great, but a bit cumbersome in the execution. You end up having chapter after chapter of the same events happening with different outcomes. The net result is you are left with a story that has no real linear story as you aren't sure what this person's life really ended up being. In the end it seems there would be some sort of tying together of all the elements. However there was not, and the reader is left hanging in the air, which is frustrating slogging through a fairly dense book. This would be a great book for a book club though as there is lots of food for thought.


Add Age Suitability
Mar 10, 2014

dkilrain thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WCLS

To Top