The idea of getting a do-over in life is fertile territory for an author. You die, and then somehow you wake up again and get the chance to do it right this time. Add in a time and place--say, Britain in the decades leading up to World War II. Now the question is not only getting your personal life right, but perhaps being able to change the course of history itself. All of this has the makings for a very good novel, but in the hands of Kate Atkinson, it becomes something extraordinary. Her protagonist is Ursula. Sometimes Ursula dies at birth, sometimes she dies in childhood, sometimes she lives a full life--happy or otherwise--but she always starts over, slowly accumulating the the shades and shadows of her other lives. And soon, often without knowing why, she begins to act on those inklings. Atkinson's storytelling is subtle and complex,and her evocation of a time and place remarkable. This is the must-read of the year.