Darkness and so on and on

Adam Mars-Jones

  • BuyLife after Life by Kate Atkinson
    Doubleday, 477 pp, £18.99, March 2013, ISBN 978 0 385 61867 0

Kate Atkinson is in no danger of prosecution for misrepresenting goods. Life after Life does exactly what it says on the spine of the book, offering a number of versions of the life of Ursula Todd, born in 1910. These lives aren’t exactly alternatives: it’s unclear what happens to the (very slightly) variant worlds when she dies in them, but then how would this information be conveyed? It’s a religious problem more than one of narrative technique. At some points, though, Ursula sacrifices herself for others, which would be an empty act if the world she was leaving ceased to exist.

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