My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Living one life after another is not an entirely new concept, but here it's explored with the free will and abandon of an author that not only has the writing skills to pull it off, but seems to just have so much fun exploring the idea.
The length made me lose track of the threads of the stories sometimes . . . not to seem redundant, but I agree that shortening it by 100 pages or so would have made a big difference. In spite of that, picking out those story threads throughout the whole narrative was kind of fun.
While the constant ending and beginning of Ursula's story is abrupt, the wonderful storytelling and descriptive abilities of Kate Atkinson kind of smooth that over so it's not so jarring. There's a sense of relief and sometimes triumph when she makes better choices, but sometimes also an unavoidable sameness to the stories.
What was really incredible for me was Ursula's fictionalized account of the Blitz. Those scenes are vivid and memorable and great defining moments for a lot of the characters. I loved how they contrasted with the idyllic countryside scenes in Fox Corner--a place that seemed warm and at times, safe from the world. It's fascinating that Atkinson can create a tone that is at the same time bleak and lyrical, with such a strong sense of perseverance and also so British. So on, and all of that.