Venue: Jane Edsall’s house in Labastide Saves
Date: Monday 24th April 2017
Contact: Karen Burroughs or Joyce Booth
Details: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel
Reading Group Review – Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
TWIG Reading Group April 2017
An interesting discussion arose from this month’s book choice, even diverging into thoughts about metaphysics, which much be a first.
The book was “Life after Life’ by Kate Atkinson. The blurb on the back cover (another tangential discussion) says ‘What if you had the choice to live your life again and again until you finally got it right?’
Following an interesting prologue in which Adolf Hitler may have been killed in 1933, the book begins with the birth of Ursula Todd in 1910. Ursula has the cord wrapped around her neck and dies at birth. It recommences in 1910 with the birth of Ursula Todd in different circumstances and she survives.
Throughout the book Kate Atkinson uses this construct of a death followed by another life. A what if?
Having life after Life, Ursula dies death after death, experiencing a sense of deja vu from time to time.
The book is basically a family saga, Ursula is the 3rd child in a family of five children who live in some comfort in the south of England with their parents Hugh and Sylvie. We follow their lives (many) and the lives of the people around them from The First World War through to the end of The Second World War. The section dealing with the blitz in London was felt to be particularly well done.
The chapters are fairly short each dated with year and month and it is often necessary to turn back to confirm which life is being lived and which character has reappeared being viewed from a new perspective.
Within the group a minority loved the book in its entirety whilst the majority enjoyed the read but with some reservations.
Most of us felt there was some brilliant writing. Some disliked the format and some found it too confusing and too long in parts.