Thursday, May 7, 2015
Page after page, and then left
Think a literary version of the movie Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray... you know then one where he gets to do one day over and over again until he gets it right?
Funny, I almost started this review piece with the first birth you recognize of Ursula, our heroine, and I completely overlooked the first chapter, when she dies assassinating Hitler and Eva Braun in a coffee shop... This is the story of Ursula, and her family outside of London just before WWI. Her father is a banker, and the family is fairly well to do. It could have been a family novel, but Atkinson delves in to the idea of multiple lives, and if you change just one thing, what will happen next?! Many, many times "darkness falls" in this novel as Ursula succumbs to death's embrace - whether it be in birth, childhood accidents, the flu, war... each life is a little bit different with a different outcome. Characters are a little different each time, and Ursula experiences echoes of her past lives. This book has some good things going for it, it is interesting, and I enjoyed parts of the stories. It does get a bit repetitive, and the stopping and starting (even if you don't always start back in 1910) got to be a bit much for me. Likely for the same reason most short stories do not work for me.
After I got 300 pages in to this one, the story line shifted to Nazi Germany, and the next series of lives, and I lost the will to continue. I tried to skim read through to the end, but knowing I had more exciting books from the library on my bedside table and the book had to go back in the morning, the desire to complete the book was gone. After peeking at the last page, any last burning embers to know the whole book vanished in a puff of smoke.
This seems to be another polarizing novel - folks to tend to fall in to one camp or the other. Yes, it is a great idea, yes, Atkinson is a good author, but really truly, somewhere along the line I stopped caring, and that is when I stopped turning the page. Her next novel is about Ursula's brother Teddy, and although he was an interesting character and I am sure he has quite the story, I think I will be skipping this one.