*review includes personal views about the ending that might contain hints of spoilers for some readers
I love stories that keep floating through your mind long after you've finished them. Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" is one of those stories. There was nothing that I didn't love about this book. The historical context of Britain in the pre and post WW1 and WW2 eras with its Mitford sisters parallels was captivating, as was the focus story, the many lives of Ursula Todd.
I think everyone must have asked themselves the question, 'what would I change if I could go back and live my life again'. For Ursula Todd, youngest daughter of wealthy and eccentric parents, Silvie and Hugh, this is her ongoing reality. Yet "Life After Life" is much more than just another time travel/reincarnation style of story. It delves into much bigger themes about the realities of fate and happenstance, the power of individuals to change the future, and the mysterious bonds within families that transcend all of these.
As periods of Ursula's life reach points of building crises followed by her untimely deaths I couldn't wait to see what she would do when she her life was 'reset'. I was never disappointed. Kate Atkinson weaves a complex and yet seamless narrative around Ursula's unfurling choices, each one having ripple effects in ways that are sometimes devastating, sometimes miraculous, and always unforeseen. It was hard to see how this 'time after time' tale could be concluded in any way that could be satisfying or credible. It was, and yet the ending raised as many questions as it answered, except for my conviction about one thing: Ursula was finally living the only life she would ever hope, want or need to live again.