I normally wait until I have a round up for you but I really loved this one and had to share. I'm torn because I came to this book cold and I think it might be best experienced that way. But I know some of you would prefer to know something about it before you decide to read it, so I'll just try not to say too much.
I'd read Behind the Scenes at the Museum a long time ago and enjoyed it. I also really liked Case Histories, which is a beautifully written crime novel and therefore hits two of my sweet spots. Kate Atkinson is an exceedingly clever writer and I know some readers probably felt Life After Life was too much an exercise in cleverness but I devoured it.
It's a bit like an adult choose your own adventure, except you get to see how all the adventures turn out. This thrills me to core, since I'm a terrible overthinker. In real life, this is a disaster. There are infinite ways in which things could have gone differently and it generally doesn't pay to sit around thinking about them. But in a novel? I found it so satisfying. You get to see the protagonist live several different lives and you see how a small decision changes the course of her story.
A book with this structure has the potential to be extremely tedious. Atkinson is constantly backtracking, retracing steps, re-exploring covered ground. The book is long (over 500 pages) but somehow I never got tired of it. You see the same events but she manages to approach them from slightly different angles each time, which takes the repetitiveness out of it.
My one reservation is the denouement, which gets a little intense and involves Hitler. (I've tried to re-word that sentence so it makes more sense but I don't want to give too much away so I'm just going to leave it as is - it's a fair description, even though it doesn't do the book justice.) I think it was intended to be the thread that holds the book together and makes the plot a little more traditional, but I'm not sure I needed it. I would have been fine with the book just winding down.
I think this novel might require a certain type of reader. I'm happy to read dozens of iterations of the same story, provided it's done well. Atkinson does it well and makes it interesting.
Have any of you guys read it? As soon as I'd finished I wanted to force someone else to read it so I could discuss it immediately but a 500+ page book is a hard sell, especially when you're all on vacation.