Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Two books by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson came out in 2013 and I immediately started seeing great reviews for it, but it didn't sound especially interesting to me.  then in 2015, a second, companion type book came out and it did sound interesting, so I decided to read Life After Life first, then read A God In Ruins (the companion book).  Both books can stand alone, but reading both gave me a lot more information and understanding.

Life After Life can be summed up by the line on the back cover of the book:

"What if you could live
again and again, until you got it right?" 
Ursala Todd was born in 1910, but she died immediately.  In other chapters, Ursala Todd was born in 1910 and goes on to live interesting lives...she died in some of the lives and lived on in others.

The book was initially quite confusing for me until I caught onto what was happening.  The writing and the story (stories) are genius.  The Todd family itself was fascinating and the events of the two world wars and how they impacted England (where the Todd family lived) were well-researched and well-written.

A God In Ruins is the story of Ursala's younger brother, Teddy.

"He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future."

Teddy had been a pilot in World War II and he had never expected to survive that war.  He did and
went on to marry his childhood sweetheart, Nancy, and to have a child, Viola, and a granddaughter, Bertie.  In the book, Teddy enjoyed and suffered all that a long life brings.  He and Viola struggled with their relationship, but Teddy found his love and comfort in his granddaughter, Bertie.

Both books are long and rich in details that add enormously to the stories. Life After Life is an ingenious story of what could have been.  A God In Ruins is an ingenious story in a very different way.  The ending of that book is incredulous and left me in awe.

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