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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Another British WWII novel but w a twist

Though Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is a British novel much of which takes place during and just after World War II - like just about every other Brisbane novel from the pas 80 years or so - it lacks at least so far some of the driving force of the sequel -A God in Ruins - much of which was about Teddy's life as a fighter pilot brilliantly researched and convincingly written. It's not yet quite clear (about 1/4 into the narrative) exactly what role central character Ursula will play during the war - we know from hint that she spent time in Germany before the outbreak and the first chapter showed that she may have worked as a spy or agent - but the chapters so far show her as having a tedious job as a clerk or stenographer so I'm not sure how Atkinson will weave these strands tho I'm pretty sure she will as she has shown her skill and developing a narrative told in segments out of sequence. One of the best of these segments in the first quarter of the novel show her in poverty in a small flat in a tough London neighborhood just after the war - Atkinson conveys well the poverty that the whole nation felt - as if they lost the war, as one character says - and the elation Ursula feels when she gets a food package sent from the family farm in the country. Survival itself is a challenge - not enough gas to cook or hear or illuminate anything. The mother Sylvia and her depression (and her marital affair) will play a bigger role in this novel than in God in ruins - ditto for Aunt Izzie the author who I suspect will also play an espionage role of some sort. It's a challenging and highly intelligent novel and I'm hoping the the pieces will cohere into a full picture. I still don't see what she giants by "killing" her main characters at various points in the narrative (and then resurrecting them as suits her purposes).

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