A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book where the script has been scraped or washed off so that it can be used again. The word comes from Latin, and refers to a time when the Romans wrote on wax-coated tablets that could be smoothed and reused.
When Life After Life makes the observation "Time isn't circular. It's like a palimpsest," it's a notion that main character Ursula Todd knows all too well. Her life is a series of palimpsests, as it were, with death scraping the page clean for her to write her life upon again. She starts with a very short story; on a cold snowy night in 1910. Ursula is stillborn, dying before she can draw her first breath. But on that very same night, this daughter to an English banker and his wife lets out a fierce wail, starting a life that will be most unusual.
Death is not the finale for Ursula Todd as it would be for anyone else. She dies in many ways, but after each time she comes back with a fresh page, to experience life over again and to make a different set of decisions. Clearly, destiny has plans for Ursula Todd, but will she ever be able to glean what they are?
Life After Life is British author Kate Atkinson's 8th novel; her first, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, propelled her into the spotlight, winning the coveted Whitbread Book of the Year award. A critically acclaimed international best-selling author, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to literature. Born in York, she now makes her home in Edinburgh, Scotland.
What if you could live again and
again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910,
Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can
draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born
again. She lets out a lusty wail and embarks upon a life that will be, to say
the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety
of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic
Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power
to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can—will she?
comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original—this is Kate Atkinson at her
absolute best. Download and start listening now!