When I heard that Kate Atkinson was working on a companion novel to the brilliant Life After Life, I knew that I had to read it as soon as I could. Well. I’m lucky and very grateful because Random House UK sent me an ARC of A God in Ruins, so I got to read it in March already. Today, however, it’s your chance to go to the bookstore and grab a copy to find out what the fuss is all about: It’s release day!
After the war, Teddy Todd does what he had always planned to do. He marries his childhood sweetheart Nancy, they have a daughter and two lovely grandchildren and he grows old. But even though the war is over, it will always be part of Teddy’s life.
Teddy is a good-natured man who loves the peacefulness of the countryside. Like many other war veterans, he doesn’t want to talk about what he went through during his service as a bomber pilot, much to the dismay of his wife Nancy. Kate Atkinson does a wonderful job portraying the couple’s and many other relationships in A God in Ruins, but I never felt a connection to Teddy or any of the other characters. This often made it hard to pick up the book, because I really didn’t care what would happen to the Todd family. Only when Teddy’s grandson Sunny gets into a life-changing situation, I was eager to read on.
A God in Ruins is not written in chronological order. Kate Atkinson weaves World War II scenes into Teddy’s lifeline, which we travel on in a seemingly random pattern. Although this structure appeals to me, these changes in time sometimes made me feel a bit lost.
A God in Ruins is called a companion novel to Life After Life. If you are looking for Life After Life‘s special structure or the many charming characters, you might be looking in the wrong place. Of course we meet Ursula and Sylvie, but they only play minor roles and this novel’s structure is different. A God in Ruins is a book about a bomber pilot who survives World War II to become a very ordinary man, leading an ordinary life.