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A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
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A God in Ruins (2015)

by Kate Atkinson

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English (116)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (118)
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Like a Halifax bomber under serious assault the novel jinks back and forth and side to side... in time. It should be discombobulating but it's kinda wonderful. We see Teddy from all temporal angles when he was never more alive and when he was never closer to death.

I was sucked in. There may be plenty to criticize here but the overall effect was strong enough to win me over. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
This book started out like gang busters for me. I was very engaged. But around the 300 page mark it really began to feel like work. Atkinson is a brilliant mind - she jumps between viewpoints and time periods and seemlessly weaves historical facts into her writing in the most dazzling way. I am not sure what happened but I stopped feeling invested in the characters. I enjoyed the more contemporary storylines better than the older and really felt like the WWII battle sequences were hard to get through. I was not a fan of how she decided to end it. ( )
  alanna1122 | Mar 12, 2019 |
Your story is not only your story, a lot of different people contribute to the narrative of your life and their stories get attached to yours... and similarly, your story is a part of theirs. Thus, there are a lot of perspectives in the novel which give one a better understanding of Teddy (the protagonist) as a brother, father, son, grandfather, husband, pilot etc. There is a lot of shifting in time (past - present - future) in a single chapter which might make it a bit tedious for some but once you get into it, it is brilliantly engrossing.
The ending completely caught me off guard and, somehow, reminded me of Atkinson's previous novel - Life after Life (which is not essentially a prequel but rather a companion, as she says); how one action can not only change the course of your life but also of the life of people associated with you. ( )
1 vote Megha17 | Jan 17, 2019 |
A lovely companion to Life After Life. ( )
  JMLandels | Jan 11, 2019 |
A companion novel to Atkinson's Life After Life, this volume focuses on Ursula's younger brother Teddy, who flew bombers over Germany during WWII. Told via a non-linear narrative, we learn about the many details of his life before, during and after the conflict -- a life surprisingly remarkable in its unremarkable-ness. Like some other readers, I initially felt betrayed by the ending, but following some reflection the 180° lurch has made the tale more meaningful. Recommended. ( )
  ryner | Dec 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Kate Atkinson writes a brilliant follow-up to her brilliant novel, focusing on Teddy, the RAF pilot and brother of the previous book’s heroine....But if A God in Ruins suffers from a touch too much tidiness, if it overcalculates the glories of a sensitive “artistic soul,” those flaws pale next to Atkinson’s wit, humanity, and wisdom. In her afterword, she alludes to the “great conceit hidden at the heart of the book to do with fiction and the imagination, which is revealed only at the end.” It is a great conceit. But it’s also a testament to the novel’s craft and power that the conceit isn’t what you’ll remember when it’s over.
 
A God in Ruins doesn’t have a plot so much as a question, namely: How does such a lovely, perfect guy produce such a horrible, ungrateful daughter? Atkinson’s characteristic intelligence and wit are often on prominent display in the novel, yet it isn’t quite idiosyncratic enough to avoid the pitfalls of plotlessness. The chapters describing Teddy’s wartime exploits, in particular, feel over-long and over-detailed. One gets the sense that Atkinson has done a lot of painstaking research and doesn’t want to waste the fruits of her labour. ...Unlike Life After Life, which began flamboyantly and had a large cast of nuanced characters, this novel’s rewards come late in its pages. Until they do, we’re left in the company of two people who are ultimately rather dull: one because he’s “deplorably honest,” the other because she’s exasperatingly self-serving. Narrative psychology tells us there’s bound to be an explanation for this, and there is; the question is whether readers will have the patience to stick around and find out what it is.
 
But then you read a novel like Kate Atkinson’s “A God in Ruins,” a sprawling, unapologetically ambitious saga that tells the story of postwar Britain through the microcosm of a single family, and you remember what a big, old-school novel can do. Atkinson’s book covers almost a century, tracks four generations, and is almost inexhaustibly rich in scenes and characters and incidents. It deploys the whole realist bag of tricks, and none of it feels fake or embarrassing. In fact, it’s a masterly and frequently exhilarating performance by a novelist who seems utterly undaunted by the imposing challenges she’s set for herself....Taken together, “Life After Life” and “A God in Ruins” present the starkest possible contrast. In the first book, there’s youth and a multitude of possible futures. In the second, there’s only age and decay, and a single immutable past. This applies not only to the characters, but to England itself, which is portrayed over and over as a drab and diminished place. The culprit is obvious — it’s the war itself, “the great fall from grace.”
 
A God in Ruins is the story of Teddy’s war and its legacy, “a ‘companion’ piece rather than a sequel”, according to the author. At first glance it appears to be a more straightforward novel than Life After Life, though it shares the same composition, flitting back and forth in time so that a chapter from Teddy’s childhood in 1925 sits alongside a fragment of his grandchildren’s childhood in the 1980s, before jumping back to 1947, when Teddy and his wife Nancy, newly married, are trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the devastation: ...A God in Ruins, together with its predecessor, is Atkinson’s finest work, and confirmation that her genre-defying writing continues to surprise and dazzle.
 
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Epigraph
'A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be no longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.'

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
'The purpose of Art is to convey the truth of a thing, not to be the truth itself.'

Sylvie Beresford Todd
Dedication
For Reuben
First words
He walked as far as the hedge that signalled the end of the airfield.
Quotations
He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385671407, Hardcover)

The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller Life After Life, "one of the best novels I've read this century" (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl).
     Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. Her new novel tells the story of Ursula Todd'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 is facing the difficulties of living in a future he never expected to have. The stunning companion to Life After Life, A God in Ruins explores the loss of innocence, the fraught transition from the war to peace time, and the pain of being misunderstood, especially as we age. Proving once again that Kate Atkinson is "one of the finest writers working today" (The Chicago Tribune), A God in Ruins is the triumphant return of a modern master.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:03 -0400)

"Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again. A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have" --… (more)

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