Life After Life (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Life After Life
Life After Life (novel) cover image.jpg
First U.S. edition, 2013
Author Kate Atkinson
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical fiction
Published 2013 (Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company)
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback)
Pages 529 (1st edition, hardcover)
ISBN 9780316176484
OCLC 806015209
Followed by A God in Ruins

Life After Life is an award-winning 2013 novel by Kate Atkinson. It is the first of two novels about the Todd family. The second, A God in Ruins was published in 2015.


The novel has an unusual structure, repeatedly looping back in time to describe alternative possible lives for its central character, Ursula Todd, who is born on 11 February 1910 to an upper middle class family near Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire. In the first version, she is strangled by her umbilical cord and stillborn. Later iterations of her life take her into World War Two, where she works in London for the War Office and repeatedly witnesses the results of the Blitz including a direct hit on a bomb shelter in Argyll Road in November 1940. Todd eventually comes to realize, through a particularly strong sense of deja vu, that she has lived before, and decides to try to prevent the war by killing Adolf Hitler in late 1930.[1]

Critical reaction[edit]

The Guardian gave the book a positive review, finding it conveyed both the changing social circumstances of 20th century Britain, and the particular details of the character's day-to-day life, in addition to the pleasures offered by the narrative format.[2] The Daily Telegraph likewise praised it, calling it Atkinson's best book to date.[3] The Independent found the central character to be sympathetic, and argued that the book's central message was that World War II was preventable and should not have been allowed to happen.[1]

Awards and honours[edit]

It won the 2013 Costa Book Awards (Novel).[4][5] It was shortlisted for the 2013 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction,[6] Waterstones Book of the Year (2013), and the Walter Scott Prize (2014).[7] It was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review,[8] an ALA Notable Books for Adults (2014), The Morning News Tournament of Books (Zombie Selection and Finalist 2014), Goodreads Choice Awards (Historical Fiction 2013), Andrew Carnegie Medal longlist (2014), The South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature (2014).


  1. ^ a b Hore, Rachel (9 March 2013). "Life After Life, By Kate Atkinson (review)". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Clark, Alex (6 March 2013). "Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (review)". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Brown, Helen (22 Apr 2013). "Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (review)". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "BBC News - Former winners recapture Costa prize". Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  5. ^ Mark Brown (26 November 2013). "Costa book awards 2013: late author on all-female fiction shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ "The winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 is A M Homes for May We Be Forgiven". Booktrust. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Walter Scott Prize Shortlist 2014". Walter Scott Prize. 4 April 2014. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ New York Times (2013). "The 10 Best Books of 2013". Retrieved 7 December 2013.