Life After Life

By Kate Atkinson
Life After Life cover



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.

Year of Publication


The title does not just refer to the repeated lives of the heroine Ursula Todd (Tod is German for death, and Ursula dies just a few pages in... Only to live again and die again). It is also about afterlives and consequences. Ursula, whose lives cover the 20th century, is an incarnation of Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence, and strives to find the life where, if she had to live exactly again, she could joyfully accept doing so.