This April, we reviewed two very different books by best-selling authors . . . with the exact same title. (We know, it's weird.) Perhaps Life After Life was such a perfect title for both stories—for different reasons—that neither publisher was interesting in changing it? Just to make things more confusing, we recommend you pick up both!
In Jill McCorkle's new book, "life after life" refers to the constantly changing group of people that hospice volunteer Joanna cares for at the Pine Haven Retirement Center in Fulton, North Carolina. When the inevitable happens, Joanna records their ends in a journal she keeps close to her. As her story intertwines with that of several residents, McCorkle contemplates the different routes aging might take us. Our reviewer's take: "This is a beautifully written, perceptive and poignant novel that will linger in readers’ minds for a long while."
For Kate Atkinson, the words "life after life" refer more directly to her novel's unusual protagonist, Ursula, who is literally born again—and again—over the course of the novel. Each time she is born, Ursula's life varies in small but important ways, allowing Atkinson to explore the vagaries of chance and the tiny variations that can change the direction of a life. This unusual and imaginative tale is our fiction top pick for April. Our reviewer's take: "One might think that Atkinson’s technique of ending Ursula’s story and then starting it over would be too confusing or tedious to stay with very long, but no such thing happens. The cast of characters varies slightly from existence to existence, and the alternate histories with a multitude of endings cast their own spell."