October 27, 2013
‘What if we had a chance to do it again and again,’ Teddy said,
‘until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’
‘I think it would probably be exhausting. I would quote Nietsche to you
but you would probably thump me.’
‘Probably,’ he said amiably.
-- from Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Bond Street Books, c. 2013
What if? What if your life were a succession of do-overs, with only the faintest sense of déjà vu as your guide, a vague awareness that you hadn’t got it quite right, that there might be something even you--little, single, solitary you--could do to change the course of history.
Well, if it were possible, then the first order of business for one Ursula Todd would be to make it out of infancy. Which she does. Eventually. Babies, being not terribly well-equipped to take on Nazis, bomb blitzes or bad husbands for that matter.
With a deft touch of Mitfordian wit tailored to the times, Kate Atkinson pulls strings this way and that until, at last, her protagonist becomes the heroine she was always meant to be.