[523]: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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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 Β 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.

  • Oh I had no idea this was a companion, I literally thought that the title was literally describing the plot but I guess I was wrong haha! The cover is lovely! I guess I will read Life After Life first! Even though they’re nothing alike!

  • Gorgeous review Joy. <3 I'm so glad you liked this book πŸ˜€ It looks oh so gorgeous. Sigh. Your picture is stunning πŸ™‚ And ack, that bookmark is awesome! I love it πŸ™‚ You do make me curious about this one, but not yet my thing, sigh :\ Soon, maybe. <3 Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  • I haven’t read the previous book by this author that you mentioned, but her name does sound familiar so I’ve either seen it around before or read a review of something of hers. Either way, I can be patient with a book and when I’m in the mood I might check this one out. Complex plots are great for when I am in a puzzling mood!

  • Good review! (: I love reading reviews of adult fiction.

  • This author is new to me. I love the title of this book. It already sounds complex just from that. This was a really great review. You have a way with words. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • I’m so conflicted. I surprisingly loved Life After Life, I really connected with the characters, and even though it was character driven and quite long (which can sometimes bore me and cause me to put it down without ever picking it up again), I was pretty much gripped, and even found the repetitive parts entertaining. I loved Teddy in LAL, and was really looking forward to this, though not sure what to make of it, as I was assuming it would be about discovering if Teddy had the same gift as his sister, and perhaps explaining his reappearance at the end of the first book. I found the ending rather complicated. Even though you enjoyed the book overall, I found your review to be a bit mixed, and I’m not sure what to make of the book – whether I’ll like it or not.. One I might wait for a good offer on before buying… R x

  • This book is simple and gorgeous looking! I’ve not tried the author, but I’m curious now. I’m glad you enjoyed A God in Ruins for the most part. Wonderful review & pretty pic too, Joy! πŸ™‚

  • I have honestly never heard of the first book, but this sounds intriguing enough. I really like deep books, the sort that gives you so much to think about you actually need to list them down! I used to write them but making status updates of my thoughts helped me out more. I’ll have to see if I can get a copy of both books (plus, that cover looks beautiful).

    Faye at The Social Potato

  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I always have a hard time getting into books that jump back and forth in time. For some reason, it doesn’t work for me. I tend to stay away from those, but Atkinson would probably be worth the trouble.

  • I’m a HUGE Kate Atkinson fan, although I haven’t read either of these books of hers yet. I did buy a copy of Life After Life, so it’s just a matter of finding time to read such a LONG book, ha ha!

  • At least you weren’t disappointed and it worked out well for you in the end..for a minute there I thought you ended up not liking this.

  • I love your description about this being an “unrecognizable sibling” that is perfect!
    Even though this was much different than the first but with similarities, I’m so glad you still really enjoyed it. Wonderful review!

  • Love love love your review! Great writing! I’ve added both of the books mentioned hear to my TBR! Thanks for sharing them!

  • I love that cover so much. I’ve heard quite a bit about this author, but I can’t say it’s my genre. I’m glad that despite some rough moments you were able to enjoy this book, Joy.
    Lovely review!

  • RO

    Though the cover is fantastic and the author is new to me, I have to admit that lately, if a book’s story doesn’t immediately grab me within the 1st two chapters, it’s hard to maintain my interest. Love your review, but I’m on the fence with this one. Hugs…

  • Another author I have not tried

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this installment Joy, although at first I didn’t think you would like it in your review. πŸ™‚ is it weird that I thought by the cover of the book it was Mocking jay from The Hunger Games? Most def did. This seems like a lovely tale weaved with magic and mystery.

  • It sounds like it have a complex plot there. The indea is interesting and a bit different but it must be strange not to know at first where the author wants to lead us. thanks for th discovery. I just love the cover!