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.