As part of our Best Books of 2013 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
Novelist Kate Atkinson takes a detour from her popular Jackson Brodie books with Life After Life, a daring novel that has a premise more familiar to players of video games than readers of literary fiction: Every time her heroine, Ursula Todd, dies, she is reborn on the same snowy day in 1910. With each life, Ursula is able to change her fate and that of her family in small but subtle ways. As she gradually becomes conscious of her strange ability, she must try to decide what to do with the gift she has been given.
With each iteration of Ursula's life, the reader becomes more and more invested in her fate—even as we are led to ponder the nature of fate and reality itself. It's fascinating to see the small variations in the lives of characters we have come to know and love, and Atkinson portrays British country life on the eve of World War I and the horrors of the London Blitz with equal skill. Life After Life is remarkable achievement from one of today's best storytellers.
Read our review.