Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 27, 2013

Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

Brilliant:  Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, that is.


I read a few ‘trashy’ books in between – I mean after reading John Le Carre‘s engrossing spy story (The Night Manager) and this one by Atkinson.  Easy-readers keep me awake, I’ve noticed.  I have an urge to get through with it, read until I know exactly what happens, I have no sense of actually enjoying the reading, am simply pushed forward, sleepless, till the bitter end, three in the morning, four in the morning, bleary eyed.   That’s just not good for being bright and cheerful during the day, and productive – I end up feeling groggy and miserable but work does not grant bail.

Voices of the Death by Peter Leonard did that to me:  it caused sleeplessness, somehow I just needed to know how Leonard was going to make sure that Harry Levin survived and that this very bad Nazi failed to win, he really was bad, so bad, that you almost stopped believing in him.   I had my doubts.  My son lives in Germany, I know some nice Germans, I don’t believe that all Bavarians are neo-nazis and gang up to attack innocent tourists just for the sake of it.  Well, they did not really, because it was all a set up.  That whole story turned around two survivors of a murder spree in an extermination camp during the second world war.  Too far-fetched, most of it, I think.  Never mind, it started as a good read, then became a gallop into the middle of the night and great relief when I’d actually done with it.

So now I’m reading Kate Atkinson’s latest book and it is as good as the reviews have proclaimed, no it’s better.  It makes me think not only about the writing process: do you kill off one of your characters or do you make sure that she survives, and start again?  That’s what Atkinson does, but it’s much less simple than it sounds.   The book is challenging, and so very readable.  You have to give yourself time to savour every single page, the story goes back and forth, keeps you on your toes, makes you wonder about your own life: what if?    This is a book about alternative worlds, different outcomes, the haphazardness of it all.

Yes, I love this book and actually, I don’t want to finish it too quickly!


  1. Have you liked any of Atkinson’s other books? I haven’t, but this one is getting such great reviews.

    • Yes I did like Kate Atkinson’s previous books. They are quite different and in Life after Life she forges quite a new way of writing a novel in that she starts and stops and starts again. Yet it’s riveting …

      • Okay. I’ll get it in paperback.

  2. Hi – yes I have liked her previous books as well although I think this one is quite different.

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