This stunning companion to Kate Atkinson’s #1 bestseller Life After Life, “one of the best novels I’ve read this century” (Gillian Flynn), follows Ursula’s brother Teddy as he navigates an unknown future after a perilous war. “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. Part of him never adjusted to having a future.”
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. An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man’s path through extraordinary times, A God in Ruins proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.
I agonised over whether to give this a 4 or a 5 star. Four because it went on a bit too long and I initially hated the ending. Five because although it went on a bit too long the writing is so good that it kept me reading, and the author’s note at the end said that she considered this to be the story of one of the many lives of Ursula (Life After Life by Kate Atkinson), a companion piece rather than a sequel, and this made more sense of the ending for me.
“A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams.“ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
All through Life After Life I considered Teddy’s character to be a bit too perfect to be true, and that opinion did not change with reading A God In Ruins. The quote above indicates that it was very intentional. I became very fond of him, though, and very invested in what would happen to him.
It’s a beautifully written book and I ultimately gave it 5 stars.