Set in the early 20th century and spanning (in one life) nearly 60 years, Kate Atkinson raises questions about choice and consequence. A truly unique novel that gives animation to the eternal recurrence as discussed by Nietzsche in The Gay Science. Ursula Todd is born again and again with each life containing new struggles, tests and triumphs- many of which end with her death. The summary on the back of the book says this, “What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization- if she only has the chance?” And in The Gay Science Nietzsche says this, “What I do or do not do now is as important for everything that is yet to come as is the greatest event of the past: in this tremendous perspective of effectiveness all actions appear equally great and small. ” Our day to day choices are both life-altering and insignificant. To what degree will each choice affect our journey? As evidenced by Ursula’s multiple attempts to alter her course through life and, though it may change for some time, she eventually finds her way back to a course much like the last ( war torn Europe, poor taste in men, and that darn basement in London.) Dark at times and witty at others, Life After Life is a great philosophical work masking as a fictional story.
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