Monday, January 4, 2016

Lost in England Again

After putting away the Christmas red and green, I began the new year as I hope to go on, and spent the weekend reading and writing. The writing is going well but I won't say more than that just now.

The reading took me to England -- first to the dreaming spires of serious, studious Oxford.  But in Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm's 1911 spoof of undergraduate life, "it is a silly place." (to appropriate a Monty Python line.)

And it's a silly book but such good fun as the beautiful Zuleika wreaks havoc among the stuffy Oxford scholars to the disapproval of onlooking ghosts and statues of Roman emperors. I enjoyed it immensely -- but then I have a penchant for somewhat overblown writing, melodrama, and general silliness.

Saying farewell to Oxford , I turned to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.  England again -- and again and again -- from 1910 when Ursula is born to the Forties and WWII and beyond . . .

  The  gimmick (an inelegant word for an elegant contrivance) of the novel is that the book follows Ursula through the many turns her life might take as she meets various untimely ends only to be born once more in 1910 into the same family with not exactly full recall of her past lives but something closer to deja vu and sometimes a foreboding that allows her to move down a different path than the previous life.

The writing is beautiful. Atkinson is a skilled juggler of plot and character, making each permutation of Ursula's life seem completely believable. Highly recommended!

Thanks to my niece Amelia for reminding me that I needed to read this!

Review of Life After Life HERE


Frances said...

Vicki, I am falling behind in my blog reading and commenting, but have managed just a bit of new year's decluttering progress in the apartment, and finally finished and mailed my final Santa's knitting workshop gift to friends. And had those black-eyed peas filled with good luck.

I read Zuleika Dobson as a teenager, having found it on a bookshelf at home. Gosh that was ages ago...half a century. Life After Life is a grand book. I am quite a fan of Kate Atkinson.

I loved the photograph of the dog sitting very politely at table.


Deanna said...

Life After Life sounds like a perfect read. Now to find time...

NCmountainwoman said...

One of our book club selections this year is "Life After Life." I was delighted because I had already read it and had it on Kindle. Alas, I had the wrong book. My "Life After Life" is by Jill McCorkle. Wonder how many people get the two books confused?

I just finished "Fates and Furies," a book so well written that one forgets that almost all the characters are rather unlikable. One would certainly not want to be friends with any of them.