Last year I declared Life After Life by Kate Atkinson my favorite book. The story and writing was stunning – very unique. Now her new book, A God in Ruins, is not really a sequel but contains many of the same characters. Instead of Ursula, we read younger brother Teddy’s story – heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather. Atkinson handles time in a unique fashion. We read about Teddy as a grandfather and then seamlessly move back to his WWII pilot days and harrowing danger. She gives witness to an ordinary man and his path through extraordinary times.
Here are some samples of her writing. P.97 Teddy’s attempts to be an author are a struggle. The great authors of the past had set standards that made his own attempts at artifice look puny. He could find no engagement with the one-dimensional lives he had created. If an author was a god, then he was a very poor second-rate one, scrabbling around on the foothills of Olympus.
p.135 the move to an assisted living center. He had begun to lose the thrifty habits he had once had, growing tired of the relentless culling and resolution that the material world demanded. Easier to let it pile up, waiting for the great winnowing of goods that his death would bring.
p.440 The trumpets sound the end of the revels. The baseless fabric begins to disintegrate. The stuff that dreams are made of starts to rend and tear and the walls of a cloud-capped tower tremble.
A God in Ruins is not the page turner Kate Atkinson’s other book was for me. However, the characters are richly drawn and I liked Teddy a lot. She obviously did research because his time as a pilot on bomber runs was well written and thrillingly scary. Teddy’s time as a mortal man prove more difficult. Dealing with his very annoying daughter, he’s at a loss and misses his wife, Nancy, who dies far too soon. This book is a leisurely read. I like a book that’s intelligent (albeit, maybe a tad stodgy). This won’t be for everyone, but I’m a Kate Atkinson fan.