[523]: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson


GOODREADS SUMMARY | Double Day Canada | Hardcover, 400 pp. | May 5, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Historical | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I have to admit that this book seems much more complex than Life After Life. The plot didn’t have a deliberate destination at first, and readers may do well to bring an abundance of patience should you decide to pick this up.

If you’ll go into this thinking that it would be somewhat of a continuation of Life After Life, you would be mistaken. This companion novel makes the former look like an unrecognizable sibling. Apart from some mentions of characters from that book, it is not a sequel. It does not go back and give you a look at its predecessor. It is a whole new novel with a storyline that’s not at all different, but somehow not the same. It is still about the Todd’s family in the era of wartime Europe. But the telling difference is the absence of Ursula’s various incarnations.

For a time, I fully expected Teddy to have the same gift/curse. But as the languid tale crawls slowly along, it was quite clear that there will be no second chances for everyone here. It led me to believe that Teddy’s second lease at life in the first novel was all duly related to Ursula’s determination to keep him alive. Moreover, this book did not have the same whimsical characteristic as Ursula’s tale. It did, however share the same painfully candid account of the realities of life; unhappiness, reservations, the horrors of war and inevitable heartaches. While Life After Life provided hope of possible futures, A God in Ruins only spoke of a bleak tomorrow where death and decay were the only inescapable consequence.

Admittedly, the story took a while to find its rhythm. I scrambled to find purchase as the narrative flits from  different time periods accounting for Teddy’s life. Moreover, we were given a few perspectives. While I’ve never been a fan of taking notes whilst reading a book, I had to give in to the temptation this time around just to get my thoughts organized.

Despite some fumbling, I still found this book to be a brilliant companion novel to Life After Life. It gave me a different appreciation for complicated story telling that required infinite patience. It had me solving an intricate puzzle without knowing what the image was beforehand. And yet, in spite of it all, I was left with an imagery that’s nothing short of breathtaking.