I’m on a roll with reading fantastic novels after a brief detour into nonfiction and a brief detour into some really boring books. Life After Life has a fascinating premise. This is the story of Ursula Todd’s life, or, more accurately, her many lives. Each time Ursula dies, she is reincarnated back into her own body, and generally lives a bit longer each time. Her powerful sense of de ja vu helps her slowly re-correct the course of her life until she finally completes the act she was destined to do.
What’s intrigued me most about the novel was figuring out which life was best for Ursula. In some of her lives, the tragedies that befall her or the way she dies is so painful, and she seems so unfulfilled, that you’re anxiously turning the pages until she dies, hoping for some relief from the life that has unfolded. In some lives, her relationships with her family suffer until she’s barely connected to them. In some, her friendships suffer. In some, she finds love, and romance, while in others she ends up alone.
Whichever life you choose depends on what your values are, I suppose. But in the end – you have to wonder the best life was the one in which she fulfills her destiny, or if she was happier when she was fulfilled in other ways. And most importantly, all of her lives feel real – she makes the choices available to a young woman living through WWI and WWI.