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Editorial Reviews

Life After Life is the latest release audiobook by master of contemporary fiction, Kate Atkinson and narrated by English actress Fenella Woolgar. The story follows that of Ursula who is given infinite chances at life. Most would believe that the value of life would be lost should the chances to live it were endless but it is with this profound gift that Ursula sees how desperate the need is to protect Earth from human destruction. This is a story that is so cleverly constructed in its plot and deep in its meaning you will be enchanted from the opening words. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.

©2013 Kate Atkinson (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Life After Life

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting Book - Very different

This is the kind of book you really have to concentrate on. It explores the main characters life from every eventuality. If certain things happened in the beginning then the ripples that follow through her life to eventual death. Sometimes her life is short, sometimes longer. It is quite fascinating the effect some small thing can have on the rest of her life.

The narrator does an excellent job.

2 people found this helpful

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Life After Life

Wonderful, so compelling, many times brought me to tears. Can’t wait to read another Kate Atkinson
Excellent narration!

1 person found this helpful

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Enchanting

An enchanting story that weaves history, family life and human emotions together in a non-linear, but compelling story. Superb characters and even better prose. A wonderful read (listen)

1 person found this helpful

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beautiful touching story

very well written story almost forgot it was fiction. The narrotor spoke wonderfully

1 person found this helpful

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very difficult to tell where you are in time

I have tried several times to get into this book as it was recommended by a colleague as an incredible and entertaining book but it's very difficult to follow and keep track of what's happened and happening of you don't listen to the whole lot in one sitting. If you lose concentration just for a second you'll have missed something and be lost again. Will see if i can return it at some point.

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A Masterpiece

My friend recommended this book to me and the 15 hour listening time did put me off for a while....however, i am so glad I listened. This is such a magical story showcasing love and tragedy. It will remain in my memory for a long time.

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Brilliant story

Loved the performance from Fenella Woolgar! Absolutely perfect. Also liked the story a lot but the ending was really ... just annoying to be honest! It should have ended several pages earlier rather than where it did. Anyway. I still deeply enjoyed this book.

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A Saga Of NOTHING That Goes NOWHERE

17 chapters and this story is in its death throes going nowhere.

17 chapters I could had done in 4 sentences.

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interesting, but no resolution

It was am interesting topic. i found out a bit sad though that there was no resolution.

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Life after life

Don't be like me; I don't like to read the dust-jackets of books in case they give too much away. However in this instance I should have! This is a beautifully written and wonderfully performed book but I got confused with various lives starting and re-starting in the story. My mistake!

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  • Julie
  • 25-05-2013

Intriguing and fascinating

I think this is my absolute favourite Kate Atkinson. What are the pivotal episodes in our lives that alter everything to come? Who can determine the purpose in their own life? An absolute thought provoking narrative.
Excellently performed by Fenella Woolgar

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chrissie
  • 22-04-2013

A puzzle - is it worth the effort?

If you could live your life over time and time again, would you/ could you ever get it right? That is the central question of this book. The next question posed is if this ability to relive your life would be a gift or a curse. This is a book of fantasy and historical fiction. It poses philosophical questions concerning how life should be lived.

Atkinson's writing is clever, both the questions she poses and her ironic, satirical, sarcastic and often sardonic humor. Don't expect good-natured laughs based on happiness. It is solely because of the writing that I have chosen three rather than only two stars.

The book is confusing. Not only does the reader jump back and forth in time but also into different versions of the same story, the point being that there is not just one story. The stories overlap at points only to later go off in different directions. The reader must continually figure out if they have been dropped into a different version or a different time period of an earlier version. In addition, many characters are not introduced. When they are first mentioned you have not the slightest idea who they are.

By the end everything is interwoven. Picture a twine of yarn that is split at several points, each strand going off in different directions. The reader hops back and forth to different segments. Is there one "correct" ending? Is there one preferable ending? Is it possible to choose the final destination? Most importantly, what is the message of the book? Was the message worth the confusion? In my view, the answer is no.

I thought the author magnificently described life in London both during the Blitz and after the war. I enjoyed the segment set in Obersalzberg, at Hitler's residence Berghof, near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany, meeting up with Eva Braun. This IS a book of historical fiction. Events of both WW1 and WW2 are covered.

The audiobook narration by Fenella Woolgar was exemplary. Irish, British, American and French accents are all perfectly executed. I believe the audio version further enhances how people of different cultures "think".

You must keep a paper and pen nearby to jot down the date of the episode you are listening to. In addition, I recommend you read this book quickly; if you read a little each day you are sure to get lost! Good Luck!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Heather
  • 29-11-2014

A mind altering book

What made the experience of listening to Life After Life the most enjoyable?

The trick to this book is to stay with it. It is 1910 and snow is falling and life starts. And starts again.Kate Atkinson is simply one of the finest writers today. This book is a literary wonder - earthed by beautiful characters and a solid English country home - and yet delving into the questions of life and time and choice. World War Two vividly evoked. Ethereal and captivating. Don't miss it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Suzanne
  • 13-07-2014

I REALLY enjoyed this

What did you love best about Life After Life?

It's such a creative story! The characters were so easy to attach to and the reader has such talent for telling the story, not just reading.

What other book might you compare Life After Life to and why?

It's such a creative story. I can't compare it to anything because I've never read/listened to another story quite like it.

Have you listened to any of Fenella Woolgar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I had not listened to Fenella before but her voice is so fantastic for audio books that I will definately be looking out for more of her books.

If you could take any character from Life After Life out to dinner, who would it be and why?

This is a hard one. I'm tossing up between Ursula and Izzy. Izzy would be highly entertaining, but Ursula would the character I would be most interested in chatting to.

Any additional comments?

Thank you to the author for such an entertaining story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Shevaun
  • 14-01-2014

Mesmerising!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The story draws you in from the very start. Over and over the story is retold and the path of her life is rewritten. It's gentle and sad, uplifting and wistful. I really enjoyed it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • EssDee
  • 30-05-2013

Stunning story and performance - Missing it!

What other book might you compare Life After Life to and why?

One Day, The Last Letter from Your Lover

Have you listened to any of Fenella Woolgar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, she's new to me, but I'll be looking into her other performances.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I never wanted to reach my destination in the car and turn it off. I miss it since I finished listening.

Any additional comments?

I've recommended this to my friends. I just loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karen Campbell
  • 27-03-2013

So tedious

I really wanted to like this because I love everything else Kate Atkinson has written. So I kept trying and re-trying to slog through it. But it is so, so boring. The characters are bland, the setting is bland and every time her life started again, I groaned because I knew there was just more blandness coming. Really disappointed

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marianna
  • 20-09-2019

Less profound than it claims

Struggled to finish it and was very annoyed by the end. I missed the wit and the comedy that interlaced so well through profound themes in Atkinson's other books.
Narrator had bad German pronunciation, but that will probably only irritate German speakers.

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  • Mark Fletcher
  • 19-10-2016

Wonderful.

The combination of magical realism and a family narrative works fantastically work. Each live relived presents different dramas, joys and sorrows, such that by the end you feel you have inhabited a life with all its possible outcomes. Totally satisfying.

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  • Susan Copas
  • 07-08-2015

Extraordinary

Fenella"s extraordinarily gifted talent for narration brought life after life to life again and again

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  • susan
  • 02-05-2013

Intriguing story, beautifully told.

This was my first Kate Atkinson book, and I shall certainly seek out others. The narrative, though fractured is gripping, and the fluent style is reminiscent of Elisabeth Jane Howard
at her best.
I agree that it seemed to lose its way a little toward the end, and would the pedantic Ursula really misuse the term 'beg the question' ?

Despite these niggles, I have become a fan of this author, and of Fenella Woolgar's superb narration.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 13-05-2013

Intriguing story of "what ifs"

Kate Atkinson is such an imaginative writer and has again produced an intriguing, multi-layered story that explores different scenarios for the characters that pivot on a single event or choice in their lives that leads to quite different outcomes. There's an undercurrent of mysticism over the possibility of re-incarnation and the notion that time is fluid such that the past and future can intrude into the present.

The narrative switches back and forth in time from 1910 to 1967. You might think that this would be confusing in an audio book, but this is not the case: The time periods are clearly sign-posted and the characters seem so familiar that one remembers what happened to them in the other scenarios. The book is rich in period detail, particularly those during the Second World War. I was sorry when the book finished as I had felt so absorbed by the characters lives and made to think about how ones life can change direction in an instant.
The narrator is very good.

61 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • T
  • 20-03-2013

A satisfying trip through sliding doors

I've enjoyed a number of Kate A's books, includding all the unabridged ones on audible, and think this is my new favourite. Well written and narrated, it covers a period from 1910 until post-war, returning time and again to reconsider events and what might have been. Parallel worlds of personal history? The path/s taken/not taken? Deja vu is given an intriguing viewpoint through moving portraits of people locked together by family and circumstance. I loved it!

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pj
  • 09-04-2013

Superbly written and superbly read.

There are times when a book takes your breath away - the originality of the story line and the quality of the writing work together to bring the reader something wonderful. That is what Kate Atkinson has done with her latest novel. How often have we asked the question 'what would have happened if...?' - Ms Atkinson has taken that idea and constructed something marvelous with it. The reading too is excellent, Fenella Woolgar added an extra dimension to what is an excellent novel. Her characterisation was superb, and her wonderful modulation kept me spellbound. I could not stop listening. I loved it all.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-04-2013

Facinating

Kate Atkinson does not disappoint with this story where the main character has several opportunities to relive her life. The story is in true Atkinson style with lots of twists and turns and the narrator's voice is very soothing.If you have enjoyed this author's other novels, you should enjoy this.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Londongayle
  • 28-12-2016

28 chapters to go and I give up

The concept is interesting, and this book came highly recommended by people who had read it. As I have difficulty reading, I listen to audio books and this is the first one I have given up on.
The reading is monotone and it is difficult to tell the difference between one chapter and the next, and each section of the story.
For me, it was dull and had no life in it.
Extremely disappointing.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gamester
  • 10-06-2013

Gripping, original, fantastic

Have read all of Kate Atkinson's books and this has to be her best. I'd never voluntarily listen to /read any WW2 books. But this......stunning and evocative.
Great characters, fascinating plot, gripped from start to finish.
Imagine The Time Travelers Wife crossed with Sarah Waters The Night Watch.
And them some. 5 star.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • CF
  • 28-03-2017

Interesting but slow

I generally enjoyed this story but it was very slow to start. Also, the concept is interesting but it ultimately doesn't seem to go anywhere.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Judy
  • 18-04-2013

not sure

The reader was brilliant. She captured the voice of the era perfectly and brought the characters to life.

The story was clever, the idea of being born again and again until you got it right, was fascinating.

It is the first time I have read about war torn London, usually avoid war stories, but this was beautifully done and very evocative.

It all worked very well .. until the end. Then, I'm just not sure. It wasn't what I expected and I don't feel I understood anymore. I may go back and re-listen to the end and see if I can understand it better. It sort of ..flopped. But the rest of the book was terrific.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Janice
  • 15-06-2013

Couldn't finish it

I've enjoyed several other Kate Atkinson talking books and was looking forward to Life after Life as the subject matter seems intriguing. The repetition of events is obviously intentional, but the childhood of Ursula seemed interminable and became tedious, so I jumped to the next part hoping it would improve, as I know several other reviewers thought it was a wonderful audiobook. In my opinion it didn't improve as I found the minutiae of description and repetition irritating. The narrator was excellent but even she couldn't persuade me to continue, so I gave up and couldn't finish it.

39 people found this helpful

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