An interesting twist to modern writing, Kate Atkinson takes on a novel of what-ifs – meaning what if a novel presented multiple outcomes in a person’s life, and took the reader through the various scenarios, within the pages of one book?
The main character, Ursula Todd, is born in 1910 to a wealthy English Banker. Her very birth is fraught with possibilities. In one instance, she dies. In another she lives because the doctor makes it in time to save the infant.
The stories go on throughout Ursula’s life through to adulthood, marriage (or not), and children (or not).
On the plus side, Atkinson is a terrific writer, and her efforts shone in her wonderful characters and interesting plots. However, this book didn’t just jump from scene to scene, it traversed back and forth in time as well. Being that the events and people often changed depending on which version of Ursula’s life was being told, I found it difficult to follow at times, and frankly, annoying.
I realize that a unique slant on writing style can be a tour de force, but sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t. For me, it just missed the mark. The book had much to appreciate in it, but the multiple lives of Ursula Todd necessitated an absence of clarity, which reduced my enjoyment of this book.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2013