In previous months, my reviews have covered pairs of books by different authors, but with a common theme, such as books about murder or books that made me smile. This month, I’m reviewing two books by the same author, Kate Atkinson. They are interlinked, although can be read as stand alone stories. I loved them both.
Stunning, A Real Page-Turner: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Ursula Todd is born during a snow storm in 1910 and dies within seconds. Ursula Todd is born during a snow storm in 1910 and lives: for minutes, for weeks, for years. As the book progresses, we accompany Ursula on different variations of her life. So many options, so many different outcomes.
This is a stunning book, so intricate and well plotted; it was easy to see how it won the 2013 Costa Novel Award. I loved the attention to detail. Each change in direction alters Ursula’s life and that of the people around her in major ways, but there were also lots of small nods from one story to another and subtle changes in her personality. The writing is beautifully understated as always in Kate Atkinson’s books and I found it a real page-turner. I can only imagine how much preparation she did to get the story lines to fit together so well. I thoroughly recommend this wonderful book.
Beautifully Written and Poignant: A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Teddy Todd is Ursula’s younger brother. This book tells the story of his life in two main strands: we see the young man as a WWII bomber pilot through a series of flashbacks; and we see the old man and his family through the contemporary story. We also see some aspects of Ursula’s life through the eyes of another person.
This is another beautifully written, poignant book by Kate Atkinson, and it won the 2015 Costa Novel Award. I found it slightly more confusing than Life After Life, but it was definitely worth persevering. The chapters featuring Sunny are heartbreaking. The ending comes out of nowhere; I had to read it twice to make sure I got it. Recommended without hesitation to anyone who loves Kate Atkinson’s books or well-written family sagas.
Dear readers, I hope you enjoy reading my occasional book reviews. I make a point of reviewing every book I read on Amazon and on Goodreads (although, as they say on the BBC, other review platforms are also available); and I would encourage you to do the same, as reviews are very important to writers. And as always, a special plea for a review if you happen to have read one of my books. Happy reading!