Life After Life

Life After Life


Kate Atkinson

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Life After Life: A Long Hard War, Feb 1947 Summary & Analysis

Ursula writes a postcard to Pamela, thanking her for the food from Fox Corner. She sets it next to Sylvie’s clock and Teddy’s photograph. Ursula clears her plate to the sink, and the electricity goes out. She takes the bottle of whiskey to bed, still in her coat. The flame on the stove flickers out, and the pilot light dies. She wonders when the gas might come back on. If the smell would wake her, she would relight it. She feels extremely tired. Darkness begins to fall, but she wakes with a start—the power has come back on. The stove pops back to life too. She hasn’t gassed herself after all.
It is unclear whether this episode is the exact scene from the chapter entitled “Peace,” or if it is simply another timeline in which the same events happen. In this chapter, even though Ursula is filled with the same despair that plagued her earlier—due to the death of her favorite brother and the sheer scale of war trauma that she has had to deal with on a daily basis—this time fate intervenes, and she wakes up before she dies.
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
Fate vs. Choice Theme Icon
Family and Love Theme Icon
War and Death Theme Icon