My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was very lucky to be sent an advanced copy of this book to read. I’ve recently discovered Kate Atkinson so I was eager to read more of her works.
This book works on the premis that life can begin again and again and again to give different endings. Whether a baby lives at birth or dies, a child dies before reaching adulthood, whether she marries or not, what choices she makes at 18 to do with her future.
It is potentially a very confusing book as it keeps returning to the baby’s birth on February 11th and the various permutations. Then some events happen slightly differently with varying consequences. Young Ursula appears to have a strong sense of deja vu and sometimes second time around manages to somehow avoid the fate she had the first time by her own actions. Can she influence her own fate and that of the rest of her family and friends or indeed the world?
With a backdrop of both world wars and the rise of Nazi Germany Kate has woven in history and fantasy to make this a riveting read. You can see Ursula heading towards the events that killed her first time and wonder how she will miss it this time. Its a grim story with rape, domestic violence and graphic descriptions of the Blitz.
Ursula has a pretty disfunctional family with her parents, aunt and siblings all playing key roles in every strand of the story. Their fates also change depending on what happens to Ursula though somethings stay the same. She has a great relationship with her big sister Pamela and her little brother Teddy but big brother Maurice comes across badly. Her mother seems scarred by the events of her own late childhood and isn’t a particularly wonderful mum but her dad is pretty good by the standards of the day. Aunt Izzie pops in and out of her life sometimes to cause good and others to cause chaos.
An really interesting idea behind the story and one that had me unable to put it down some nights!