Life After Life – Does the course of your life depend on fate or do you have control based on the choices you make? Ursula Todd is born on a snowy winter day in 1910 .. and then dies before she can take a breath. Or does she? The very same day, she is born, the doctor arrives in time, and Ursula lives. We follow Ursula’s childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as Kate Atkinson weaves in key historical events from the early to mid 20th century – World War I, the Spanish influenza epidemic, and then World War II, both in London during the Blitz and Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s. We witness Ursula’s birth and death over and over again — in each timeline she makes different decisions that lead to wildly different life paths. Or is it fate acting upon her? A highly enjoyable read for fans of British historical fiction and alternative histories. The audiobook, read by Fenella Woolgar, brings the characters to life. (Submitted by Beth)
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If you’ve ever been a member of a book club, you would know that it’s rare when everyone gets to like the same book. Usually, there are opposing opinions. Not with this book! A dozen of people gave it 4 stars out of 5. Impressive! We thought it was well written, easy to read, interesting, based on historical facts which allowed us all to learn something new or expand what bits and pieces we already knew.
The novel focuses on the leprosy epidemic of late 19th and early 20th century in Hawaii. The disease was little understood at the time and was spreading so much that the government naturally decided to quarantine the sick. However, the quarantine part was rather radical. People with disease were sent away to an island and that was their doomed, last destination since there were no effective treatments available. Even more disheartening is that children were treated the same as adults – they were sent away too, torn away from their families. The main character in the book is Rachel Kalama. She gets to be sent away when she is 6 years old. The story follows her life, as she grows up, and faces various challenges. The ending is not all ‘cakes and roses’, but it’s not bad at all and you are left in a positive mood regardless of a heavy subject. (Submitted by Mariya)
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