Release Date: April 2, 2013
Format: ARC Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review Date: September 3, 2013
Rating: 3 bookmarks
Synopsis: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.
Disclaimer: I received this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Let me be 100% honest, this was a hard book to read. Not because it was boring per say, but there were a lot of things going on and it took a very long time to get into the pace of it all. This story takes place 1910, the year of Ursula's birth to as late as 1947-ish (if I'm remembering correctly). A large chunk of the story takes place during the war years of WWII in England and Germany.
I sort of felt like I was tricked with this book, I knew it was about reincarnation, but not in the manner that this book expressed it. At first I was confused and kept looking back to previous chapters to understand what time I was in, or even back a few pages. I realized that the exact time things are happing is almost irrelevant in this book, as you're hopping through her life, back and forth to adult hood, to infancy, to teenage years, to young adult, and back again, if you just keep that in mind, it won't irritate you as much.
This story is about Ursula and her many attempts at getting her life right. I felt horrible for her for almost this entire book. That girl couldn't catch a brake to save her life...literally. I wish I had counted how many times she died, but if I had to guess, I'd say over 20 times. It's about how her choices effect herself, her family and apparently everyone else in the world. Having this type of burden would make for a very hard and exhausting many lives. Depressing really, especially because the more she dies, the more she seems to actually remember from her last life and the life before that, and so on. At first it starts out as impressions, deja vu as you will, she changes things based solely on instinct. Then slowly she actually remembers events and figures out what to do differently. Even though she'll do something differently, live a different life, yet sometimes she still ends up in the same place in the end when darkness takes her.
This story is so in depth and multifaceted. It's really on another level. I almost gave up on this book, but if you push through the first 200 pages and let your mind just read and not think about the details too much, it will all come together and you'll get into the rhythm of the story.
I liked that the story took place in England and Germany, and that we got to see a close up look as to what the war was actually on the British side. We all know what misery Hitler brought to the lives of Jewish families in Germany and the Polish, but we never really get to see the involvement of the British and how the war affected them.
What I didn't like was the lack luster ending. For me, I would have been happier had I known that there was an actual end for Ursula, that finally she did what she was meant to do and she was able to live (or not live) our her life without yet another redo. I honestly felt that after all of that, I wanted a ending that made me feel that everything Ursula had been through had been worth it. No such luck.
Did you read it? If so, tell me what you think of it!