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review Afterlife:: One Novel
"Ursula Todd says to her former shrink, "Time is like a palimpsest" and compares her live with a page that has been shaved, but with signs of the old script that mixes with the new one. Kate Atkinson's gripping new novel "Life After Life" features the young woman, who could have been Ursula Todd, stillborn in England on a snow-covered 1910, wrapping her navel around her throat.
Drowning in the sea as a little maiden, she is reborn on this snow-covered 1910 only to die as a maiden trying to save a puppet that her older bro threw out the sash. All the reincarnations, longer lifes, more people. "The second novel I have been reading this year, entitled "Life After Life", which deliberately or unconsciously mirrors play structure by portraying the pleasures, ups and downs of the world.
In" Live After Life" she spawns again and again after each passing and finally wins the capability to come back to live at an important control point and make another one. Unexplained by her mighty deja vu as her successive existence piles up, Ursu is restless with the mighty déja vu, which leads her to acts that are unexplainable to others: When she is a little gal, the Irishman of the house beats down the steps and breaks her arms.
Ursula is the only one who knows that she will save the servant girl from a journey that will result in her being killed by the flu. In the inter-war period, her life and the lightning of London show how close the role and opportunities of the woman of that time could be, but she is clever, beautiful and decisiven. One day she introduces herself to her gravestone reading: "Ursula Beresford Todd, steadfast to the last.
Atkinson wrote in the memos to her novel (which contains a spoiler) that it's not only about the realities of English, but also about what we are in our own notions. "Part of her motivations, she wrote, is the testimony of England during the Second World War. Ursula makes Atkinson deal with one of the great contrafactual what-if:
I' ve counted 17 deaths for Ursula, but Atkinson is so clever with these crossings that I may have miscalculated. What's Ursula keep returning for? In order to increase your sensitivity to the difficulties of living? Atkinson' s torments, but he doesn't say everything. In a playful way, she also introduces the novel with graceful remarks about decisions and times, such as letting Ursula buy the gelbe Partykleid in a lifetime she denies herself in a previous one.
Atkinson' s lecture is part of the Fill-the-Shelves Gallery Night, which benefits the Milwaukee Public Library.