I am a huge Kate Atkinson and have enjoyed all her previous novels, with a special fondness for those featuring Jackson Brodie. A God In Ruins is not quite a sequel to Life After Life but is described as a companion novel. It tells the story of Teddy, Ursula from Life After Life’s brother, mostly from his point of view and moves about in time from past to present and back again and indeed, often references the future. It is very cleverly constructed so that I never wondered which part of Teddy’s life I was reading about. It was good to hear more about many of the characters we meet in Life After Life. And because Ursula lives so many possible versions of her life in that book, even if you think you remember what happened to her family you may be recalling a different version.
As with all Kate Atkinson novels, I found this beautifully written. A God in Ruins is just an ordinary life recounted, yet there is a richness to her prose that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. I found Teddy a very endearing character. He seems a really gentle person who, after his experiences as a wartime pilot, just wants everyone to live as pleasant and peaceable a life as possible. He cares deeply for the important people in his life from his wartime flying crew, to his wife, his daughter and his grandchildren. Kate Atkinson is brilliant at making you care for her characters and Teddy has to be one of my favourite of her literary creations.
It is difficult to say much more about this book without giving away some of the important moments. It is exceptionally well plotted and I can’t imagine what Kate Atkinson’s planning notes must have looked like. Words like sweeping. stunning. epic, dazzling and powerful have been used to describe this book and I would agree. A very moving novel that I highly recommend.
A God In Ruins was published on 7th May 2105. You can order a copy here: A God In Ruins
What the book is about:
Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life, one of the top selling adult books of 2014, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have. A God in Ruins is a masterful companion to Life After Life, and will prove once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.