What’s it about?
A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – 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.
This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own.
This was our book club choice for January which we met up and discussed this week. Overall, the consensus was that it was a great choice; one member went so far as to say it’s one of the best she’s ever read and a new favourite. I sat on the fence a little more.
There’s no doubt that Kate Atkinson is an exceptional writer, has brilliant plots and characters but I got a little lost and bored in the middle of this book which I didn’t experience with Life after Life. Had I not read them back to back I could quite well have had a different result, it was just that I preferred WW2 through Ursula’s eyes and her experiences. Although Teddy is one of the loveliest characters you’ll ever meet in a book and his tales were often heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. I just felt the book was over-wordy and probably 100 pages too long.
I also have mixed feelings about the ending and without wanting to spoil it made me feel all Gone Girl again. There’s no doubt it’s briliantly plotted and researched but I felt cheated; that I’d read over 550 pages and, well, totally unexpected. In hindsight, as always, the signs were there but they need bigger, louder sirens for me to pick up on them 😉
This book is a fantastic way to discover what it was like as a pilot of a bomber during WW2 and the effects that has without reading an encyclopedia or reference book and the bombing raids reminded me of the movie Memphis Belle (which I loved).
My rating of 3/5 stars (liked it) on Goodreads was based purely on my enjoyment level because it was a little bit of a slog to get to the end.
Connect with the author Kate Atkinson