review written by Babs simpson & read live on the bookshow 4th Sept 2014
this is an astonishing book - a great love story and one of the cleverest formats I have ever encountered.
Ursula Tod's birth begins the story - in two versions. She is born in a snowstorm, the doctor doesn't arrive in time to free the umbilical cord which is twisted round her neck and she does not survive. the second version sees her being safely delivered. and the whole story is like this. There are several versions based on the way particular events in Ursulas life and the consequence of the various scenarios are presented.
she is born into an upper middle class family living in a large country house in 1910. she has a kind father , Hugh, and a sightly scatty mother, Silvia, a glamorous aunt Izzie and brothers and sister. the extraordinary clever thing about this novel is the 'what ifs' such and such had happened and the reader is taken back and forth - if one incident had happened her life would have taken this direction - if it hadn't then her life would have gone an entirely different way.
It is so cleverly written and convincingly that you follow every twist and turn without difficulty and each of Ursulas lives from birth to death are entirely compelling.
Kate Atkinson is a brilliant author who, amongst other scenes in the book, has written an account of the London Blitz in WW11 that is so vivid it takes your breath away.
i have read and very much enjoyed her other books but this one is in a class of its own - truly brilliant and amazing and it stayed with my a long time after I had reluctantly read the last page