The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's number-one best seller Life After Life, "one of the best novels I've read this century" (Gillian Flynn).
"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.
©2015 Kate Atkinson (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"[N]arrator Alex Jennings is a master. From the opening lines, his impeccable British accent establishes the scene and captures the persona of the main character, Teddy, and the rest of the diverse cast. Jennings's clear diction and pace advance the action through richly detailed accounts of Teddy's adventures as a WWII bomber pilot as well as quieter dramas of his daily life and family relationships." (AudioFile)
A completely compelling follow up/companion piece to Atkinson's Life After Life. I don't want to risk spoiling the story so I won't ramble on here. My only suggestion is to read both books in order and don't leave too long between the listens. I disagree with the publisher in that A God in Ruins, to me, is not a free standing novel--it absolutely needs Life After Life. Atkinson does not disappoint. A beautiful book. I loved it.
I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!
Full disclosure: I am not a diehard Kate Atkinson fan. I've read some of her past works and they just doesn't engage me like they do other readers. That said, I did like the setting and main character of this latest story. Teddy is a wonderful man, a hero in my mind, and someone I would love to sit and a chat with. He is almost the same age as my father, who also flew bombing raids (to Japan, not Europe) and I saw similarities in their behavior when they returned home from the war.
If only the entire novel were about Teddy but instead, we are treated to a storyline involving Viola, the obnoxious and awful daughter of Teddy and his wife Nancy. She is thoroughly unlikable and I hated spending so much time in her company when I could have been spending it with Teddy instead.
The story winds through many decades and ends in a satisfactory manner for most of the characters. But, it was a long road.
The narrator, Alex Jennings, did a wonderful job of capturing the energy and voices of so many of the characters.
I have never in my life finished a book and then immediately started reading/listening to it again. But that is exactly what happened last week when I finished listening to "A God in Ruins." I did not want to let go of these characters, and I wanted to go back and find any small thing I might have missed along the journey of this story. And I have to say, the writing and the story were just as compelling the second time around.
My enjoyment was also hugely enhanced by Alex Jennings' perfect and invisible narration. This guy can read a book!
There is so much in this book-- an engaging multi-generational family story, war history and its aftermath, beautiful language and imagery, humor, love, tragedy, and horror-- Kate Jackson has given us a stunner of a novel, and Alex Jennings' performance brings it all to life.
Say something about yourself!
Atkinson is a literary writer of the highest caliber, a magician with words and story. When I heard there was a follow-up to her supremely artful and wondrous "Life After Life," I RAN to Audible. A GOD IN RUINS is yet another feast for lovers of carefully culled words, and deeply developed characters. My only complaint is that, at 16 hours, it STILL wasn't long enough for me.
Obviously, it is Atkinson's LIFE AFTER LIFE, where we first fell in love with Teddy Todd, now the protagonist of A GOD IN RUINS. But I also put this book in a the same category as Anthony Doer's ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, as well as any of Pat Barker's brilliant WWI books, and also Louisa Young's MY DEAR, I WANTED TO TELL YOU, and LOVE AND TREASURE. I might even add to that UNBROKEN.
You can tell that Kate Atkinson puts great and careful thought into each word she chooses to put on the page. Alex Jennings does honor to the author by beautifully voicing each character--and not getting in the way.
I did. I listened in a two-day period. All the while thinking, "Don't listen. Stay away. Let it last."I'm taking a week off and then starting it over. Unlike a fine wine that is gone once it's been consumed, I can thankfully listen to A GOD IN RUINS over and over.
I really loved the fact that at the end of this book, Atkinson actually discusses how she came to do a follow-up to LIFE AFTER LIFE, and then why she put it into the format she did. She explained her desire to write a book specifically about the British bombing raids of WWII. If you have not read LIFE AFTER LIFE, you might still enjoy this book. But if you read this book first, I am almost positive you'll want to then go back and read LIFE AFTER LIFE.I am so grateful to have read this touching, introspective, thought provoking look at the moral dilemmas of those fighting "the good war." I wish I could give it ten stars.
The ending was just ridiculous and completely unnecessary.
To begin with the book took over 2 hours to get into. I almost gave up but forced myself to hang on until I could get a handle on the constant whipping back and fort in time without any pause to let you know it was coming. (I blame that on the narrator). I finally got into it and enjoyed the WWII references. The characters were OK but I wasn't particularly empathetic to any of them. No one seemed to learn from past mistakes and lived their lives carrying around childhood baggage. But it was OK.
Until the ending.
What was the point of that? It was a cliché straight from TV melodramas and was completely unnecessary. In fact, all it did was piss me off. Then there was a brief wrap up and on we go.
Whatever the next book on my MP3 player is.
I have enjoyed Alex Jennings narrated books before I just don't think he was a great fit for this one. It was a real slog at the beginning and some of his female dialogue seemed strained.
The entire ending. Seriously, how can anyone call this cheesy trick "great literature". I just don't get the rave review for this book.
Atkinson's Life after Life was one of my top five novels a few years back. It's series of "What ifs" in the life of Ursula Todd, born in the 1910s: what if Ursula had been stillborn or lived into old age, married or never married, stayed in England or spent years in pre-war Germany, etc. To me, it seemed as much an exercise in writing--what an author decides to do with his or character and plot--as the kind of spiritual quest others have suggested. A God in Ruins tells the story of Ursula's youngest brother, Teddy, who we know from the earlier book was a heroic RAF fighter pilot during World War II. (If, like me, you read the first book several years ago, you'll begin by questioning your memory about what happened to Teddy there . . . ) Here, Atkinson gives us another "What if"--but only one, and that comprises the bulk of the novel. The novel moves back and forth through time, from Teddy's wartime experiences to the early years of marriage and fatherhood, on into old age and, finally, death in 2012. He's a likable character, a decent man who cares deeply about the men in his crew and his family, continually trying to put things right without offending anyone. Most touching is his relationship with his two grandchildren, neglected by a mother who blames every flaw in her character and misadventure in her life on the fact that her own mother died when she was nine. Some chapters are devoted not to Teddy but to Viola, his only child, and her treks through commune life, drugs, several marriages, novel writing, and failed motherhood, and a few focus on Teddy's grandchildren, Bertie and Sunny. As other reviewers have mentioned, Atkinson also gives us through Teddy a detailed inside look at the experiences of war, particularly those of a bomber crew captain.
While I liked this book well enough, it can't compare to its predecessor. I can't really explain why without giving away too much of Atkinson's "surprise" ending, but for me, the "what if" just didn't work and was totally unnecessary. This could as easily--and perhaps better--have been a stand-alone novel about someone NOT a member of the Todd family. And I found some of the spiritual speculation in the last pages a bit heavy-handed and forced (not to mention irritating). Still, putting that aside, the book is well written, the characters well drawn, and the main story fairly engaging.
The narrator was quite good.
Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.
Atkinson's style and craft permit you to know her characters as you would your own family. You get to know them intimately with both their flaws and pettiness as well as their great moments. We are all like Teddy and Nancy, Viola, Gertie,and Sonny.She permits you to join in their lives as if it was your own. Moving and beautifully done.
The in depth portrayal of the characters
His timing was perfect and his smooth alteration in accents between London, Yorkshire, Scotland, Australia, and America was stunning and contributed in a major way to my enjoyment of this book. That is an aspect I would not have appreciated if I had read it in book form.
An Ordinary Life.
This book moved me. The writing and the narration of the writing are both spectacular making me want to continue my listen at the end of each chapter and sad when it was over. I also felt that the RAF bombing scenes were done with great attention to historical detail giving me a much better understanding of what the air campaign in WWII was about. Great book. Great characters.
I'm actually, Mrs. Jean-Paul---Joyce, using his account.
The historical research required to bring alive the experiences of WWII bombers over Germany is beautifully woven into the very touching lives of the book's characters. You'll be drawn in, and perhaps enlightened and surprised.
Fine art photographer, retired English professor, dog mom to an adorable Maltese mix, long-time Californian, genealogist, what else?
One of the previous reviewers says that it's a depressing story if you're over 60. I spent the last hour of the book weeping, which was rather unfortunate because I was driving back to Santa Cruz from L.A. and it was kind of hard to keep my mind on the road. I'm not sure that I'd call it depressing -- it's just a book that causes the reader to reflect on all sorts of things, and if you're over 60, it leads you to some serious contemplation. It's a wonderful book, and I found all of the characters to eventually be sympathetic, but Teddy is a great character and I'll probably listen to the book again just to spend some more time with him. The narrator is excellent. Highly recommended.
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I love Kate Atkinson, have read everything she's published, and will continue to do so. This is beautifully written, and sections of it are extremely engaging and moving. I think I would have done better with this book had I read it instead of listened to it.
I wasn't thrilled with Alex Jennings' narration for two reasons: (a) his voicing of women, particularly Teddy's daughter Viola, and (b) his reading of quotations in the voice of the characters who said them. As in, when Teddy is thinking of something his wife or daughter said, it is spoken in his wife or daughter's voice. I understand the intent but found that it kept jarring me out of Teddy's thoughts. It gave the quotes an affected, somewhat sarcastic tone.
The book jumps around in time, particularly at the beginning, and that made it difficult for me to feel a strong connection to Teddy. I never really did, which is one of my problems with the book. He's a kind, sweet, moral man, but I didn't find him very interesting. His daughter Viola is such a pill that it's hard to believe anybody could be this unpleasant, and I found the voicing of her difficult to listen to. There's only so much time one wants to spend listening to this kind of person! The sections dealing with Teddy's war and his bombing raids are marvelous, as is the section about Teddy's grandson Sunny's childhood.
Some of the book's characters resemble archetypes more than people; their actions and personalities are so extreme and without redeeming factors. Viola, her husband Dominic, and Dominic's mother are difficult to swallow as real people.
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