Thursday, 23 July 2015

Read in 2015 - 21: A God in Ruins

Some time ago, I read "Life After Life" and enjoyed it very much. (My review is here, if you're interested.) My sister had recommended and lent the book to me, and recently, she gave me "A God in Ruins" (called GiR for the rest of this blog post) - more a companion than a sequel to "Life After Life" (LAL), according to the author.



While LAL focuses on Ursula Todd's life in its many different incarnations, GiR tells the story of one of her brothers, Teddy. He of course appears in LAL, too, but now we learn about him and his life in much more detail. This time, it is not a multitude of different paths explored, all of which could have been as true as any of the others. No, it is one life, one long story spanning the 98 years Teddy lived. 

The Chapters do not follow a chronological order, but the reader is never in any doubt as to where or when something takes place. Nothing is confusing; of course it helps to know LAL (because most people and many events are familiar then), but GiR could just as well be read on its own and still be enjoyed, I suppose.


A lot of what makes Teddy Teddy has to do with how he experienced WWII. Kate Atkinson says in the author's note that she wanted to write a novel about the war, and realized what a complex task this was turning out to be only once she'd started. LAL was written first, and the chapters that deal with the war are mostly centred around Ursula's life in London during the time of the Blitz. In GiR, Teddy's years as the captain of a bomber crew are described, from life at his airbase down to the mechanics of bombing.


How he raises and cares for his family after the war also takes up many chapters in the book, and those were my favourites.


I am sure this happens to you, too: You enjoy a book very much and therefore want to space it out, so that you can have the pleasure of reading it longer, and at the same time you really want to know what happens next... "A God In Ruins" was that kind of book for me.

If you have read and liked LAL, you should definitely read this. Kate Atkinson has certainly become one of my favourite contemporary authors with these two books.

22 comments:

  1. Haven't spotted this book. I like her work (although less her more recent stuff) so will look it out. Thanks!

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    1. You are welcome, Jenny! I liked her work from the moment I first read "Behind the Scenes", but then somehow forgot to follow up with other books. Had it not been for my sister, I think I would have missed LAL and GiL completely.

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  2. The only book I've read by Atkinson is Case Histories which I enjoyed. Now I will check out LAL at the library.

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  3. Fascinating. My comment on your Life after Life post was "I've read quite a few of her books and was given Life After Life (which has been borrowed and read by some of my friends). Both the giver and my friends have all enjoyed it immensely. I really must do some more reading." Interestingly my brother is reading it whilst he is here and is not impressed. He has only continued (I think) because his book club is about to discuss it. I'm now in two minds about it which probably means that I may read it out of curiosity or I may just never get around to it. Hey ho.

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    1. When my sister gave me LAL to read, she said that she wasn't sure what to think of the book, whether she liked it or not. I never had any doubt about that, I liked it from page one.

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  4. I think I will read LAL first.

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    1. It will certainly make sure you'll be enjoying GiR better.

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  5. I haven't read either LAL or GiR, but have enjoyed several of Kate Atkinson's books; she is an astonishingly good, and original, writer. These sound like they'd be right up my street. Thanks for the tip(s)!

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    1. You are welcome, Mike. My first Kate Atkinson was "Behind the Scenes at the Museum", which I loved and am determined to re-read some time.

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  6. I have ordered LAL from the library and will see....I know the first KA book I read I never finished because I didn' t l ike it, but sometimes I am in strange moods.

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    1. Same here, Kristi; I often blame my own mood or mindset when a book does not "work" for me. I'd like to know what you think of LAL after you've read it.

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  7. I am yet to read any of her works, hopefully soon. Nice review. Greetings!

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    1. Thank you, Blogoratti! This is, I believe, your first comment here. So: Welcome to my blog!

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  8. I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson's work but I've never read these two. I'll look out for them in the library. Thanks for such a great review! x

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    1. You are welcome, Gillian! I am sure you'll enjoy these two books.

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  9. I loved LAL and Watkinson’s book has ever failed to grip me. I am sure I am going to enjoy GIR too when I get round to it. Not one of Kate Atkinson’s books has failed to grip me, I've read everything she’s writtenher from her first novel onwards.

    You are right in your comment, I could always continue with the saga of particular periods in my life. I miss blogging and have always enjoyed looking back into the past to see what’s worthy of being remembered. The problem is that I feel almost paralysed; mir fehlt jeder Oomph.

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    1. Das kann ich gut verstehen; es ginge mir vermutlich ähnlich in Deiner Situation. Ich wünsche Dir von Herzen, dass der Oomph bald zurück kehrt und Du dann auch wieder Freude an Deinem Garten - und an Deinem Leben insgesamt - hast.

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  10. Good grief! My spellchecker is going haywire! It’s 'Atkinson’s books have never failed .....

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    1. Don't worry, Friko, I interpreted your comment the right way round anyway :-)

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  11. I don't think I've read anything by Kate Atkinson yet. Just now I feel like GB - perhaps I'll get round to it one day, or else perhaps I won't! :)

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    1. It is difficult to say in advance how probable it is that you'd enjoy these books, Monica. Atkinson is a writer somewhat different from most (if not all) others I know.

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