Have you ever read a book that just stayed with you? Not the dialogue or the specifics of the story but the theme of the story. I had one such book in the 80's when I first started to work for the library. I read Replay (M) by Ken Grimwood.
Replay focuses on the life of Jeff Winston, or should I say lives of Jeff Winston. Jeff lives his life and dies at the age of 43. The next thing he knows, he is back in his college dorm room and he is twenty-five years younger. He lives another life, and another. He is a replayer. Each life he lives, he focuses on a different outcome. Since he remembers his past lives, it is easy to be wealthy, powerful or fatalistic. Will he ever die or will he be doomed to relive his life all the remaining days?
I found the concept fascinating. I read a great deal and mostly for enjoyment. It is easy to read for light entertainment. You don't have to remember complicated story lines or have great literary discussions. You just need to read to get away. This book didn't do that for me. The concept has stayed with me for almost 30 years and makes me wonder just what is out there for us, after death.
Kate Atkinson just released a new book Life After Life (M). It visits the same premise. It is about Ursula Todd who is born in February 1910. The cord is wrapped around her neck and she dies before she lives. The next time she is born in February 1910 but the cord is cut before she dies. Each time, she is born on the same date but lives a little longer. She lives the same life, but has a moment of recognition or caution at every crucial moment she has lived before.
I haven't read this book yet. I was so enamored by Ken Grimwood's book that I'm a little hesitant. It is getting great reviews and it is a theme that intrigues me, so I'm sure I will read it when the holds list gets a little shorter.
Another story that I read touches on a this theme in a different way. That would be the Time Traveler's Wife (M) by Audrey Niffenegger. The story is about a man, Henry DeTamble, who takes involuntary trips through time. He essentially lives his life out of sequence. Each trip takes him to a different time period in his wife's life. It was a wonderful story and was made into a movie in 2010 starring Rachel MacAdams and Eric Bana.
Stories to make you think and make you wonder if there is something different out there for us.