Following the same family from her previous book Life After Life, God in Ruins has the focus on Teddy, the younger brother who becomes a fighter pilot. It covers his life and the lives of those around him, including his wife, his parents and siblings, his very horrible and annoying daughter, her children and more.
I loved Life After Life, and was very excited to be back in the company of characters who I loved. However, I didn’t love this. I didn’t like the characters, I didn’t like the majority of the plot and I really hated the ending. Speaking with a mate who felt the same after I went to see what others online thought, and it seems that we’re in the minority. While I have often recommended Life After Life to friends, I’ll be a bit more hesitant recommending God in Ruins. However, I will certainly mention that it is loved by many.
There’s a lot going on here… there’s a strange murder mystery, there’s a woman in a remote location telling her story, there’s a girl at uni dealing with an accidental boyfriend and an odd series of events… and even when I finished, I was left wondering just what had happened.
I love Atkinson’s writing, but I find some of her work doesn’t really grab me. I read this book looking forward to it all coming together (I loved the way she did this in One Good Turn, although that was a very different style of book), but never really felt satisfied with the way it all panned out.
This is the companion piece to Life After Life – not a sequel as such. Life After Life has the main focus on Ursula Todd, and A God in Ruins it is turned to her brother, Teddy. In the author notes, Atkinson says that she had two key concepts to write about after a lot of researching World War 2 and that was the London Blitz (Life After Life) and the British bombers (A God in Ruins).
The story itself follows Teddy’s life, and those lives around him. As an audio book, sometimes it took a moment for my brain to catch up when it started following one of the other characters. It leaps around through the stages of his life and would have the potential to be confusing except that Atkinson is such an excellent writer. Teddy is great, but there is something dissatisfying in his life and experiences – he seems to be surrounded by some very annoying people and situations, and I kept wanting more for him, better for him. And then it ends… and that all but ruined the novel for me. Having a poke around online to see other’s thoughts, it seems that a lot of people loved the book, and so perhaps the end didn’t bother them. But… overall, I’m glad I read it. I did love being back in the world of these characters, even though I wanted far more Ursula, and so long as I can forget the end, I think I will look back on it fondly.
Imagine if, when you died, you were born again, and were able to make different choices, or take different paths. This is what happens to Ursula Todd, born in England in 1910. This book covers two wars and so much more.
I really loved reading this book – the chance to have one character live so many different lives, and I’ve always loved stories of the Blitz. It’s a fascinating journey and really too much fun. I now need to get my hands on A God in Ruins, which Atkinson’s book following the younger brother of Ursula.