Ms. Atkinson’s wide-ranging body of work includes several novels that resemble mysteries, but she has never had the narrowly deductive mind to suit that genre. Life After Life is a big book that defies logic, chronology and even history in ways that underscore its author’s fully untethered imagination ... It’s more like a narrative multiverse, in which different versions of Ursula’s life compete for the reader’s attention and keep a conventionally one-note story well out of reach ...an exceptionally captivating book with an engaging cast of characters ... As powerful as the rest of Life After Life is, its lengthy evocation of this nightmare is gutsy and deeply disturbing, just as the author intends it to be.
Her latest book, Life After Life, is longer than its predecessors, and so is the interval. It doesn’t star Jackson Brodie. It is noticeably ambitious ... The gimmick will be very familiar to science fiction fans. Countless stories, perhaps most famously Ken Grimwood’s 1987 cult favorite Replay...have shared just such a premise ... The book is at its best in those stretches. Haphazardly grafted onto the story of a young woman who is constantly reincarnated is the story of a young woman trying to cope with the brutality of wartime London ... Buried inside Life After Life is the best Blitz novel since Sarah Waters’s The Night Watch ... The rest is about a woman to whom 'Home was an idea, and like Arcadia it was lost in the past.'
There's a bit of Edward Gorey-esque glee in the way Kate Atkinson keeps knocking off her main character in Life After Life. And yet, she manages to invest these repeated deaths with poetry and emotion ...ingenious narrative conceit — the decision to kill her protagonist and bring her back, again and again — not only illustrates how seemingly small decisions can affect our lives; it also allows us as readers to inhabit a novelist's creative process ... Atkinson is a writer who likes to play with plot and structure... As one story ends and another begins, we see that Ursula's existence is cyclical, swinging in different directions to encompass new (and sometimes unwelcome) possibilities ...it is we, the readers, who sense the pressure of repetition, the life lived many times.