Book Review: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God In RuinsWhat’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.

My thoughts

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.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Kate Atkinson

Website | Facebook

Talk of the Town


  1. 13th February 2016 / 1:18 pm

    As I mentioned on Twitter Lindsay, love reading your reviews.

    I have been tempted to buy A God in Ruins and I’m still not sure!

    Thank you for linking with #TalkoftheTown 🙂 x

  2. 13th February 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing your review. I’ve never read a Kate Atkinson book before. 550 pages does sound a like a long one though. I am reading a book set in WW2 at the moment, but I find that some authors capture the setting better (or more realistically) than others. Might give this one a go though. #TalkoftheTown

  3. 14th February 2016 / 12:19 pm

    I adored Life After Life so strangely, I’m a bit wary about this one in case it doesn’t live up to expectation…

  4. 17th February 2016 / 9:10 pm

    I much preferred Life after Life too. I think if you’ve had a decent break between the two you’d probably like it 🙂

  5. 10th April 2016 / 10:34 pm

    Nice to hear your take on the book. What do you think of that cover? I don’t really get the rabbit… at least the bird on the hardcover seemed to relate to the book’s symbolism. Where is the rabbit in the story?

    Anyway, check out my review if you are interested:

    Take care!

    • 15th April 2016 / 12:07 pm

      I hope I’m not confusing this with LAL but I recall a scene at their family home where Ursula and I think Teddy discover a couple of baby rabbits in the garden. This is the only reference I can think of….

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your link 🙂

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