A God in Ruins

A God in Ruins

3.9 93
by Kate Atkinson

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The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller 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


The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller 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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Structure, and its way of coalescing from the seemingly casual into the deliberate, has been a main attraction in other Atkinson books. In this one, the main attraction is Teddy, and the way his glorious, hard-won decency withstands so many tests of time. Everything about his boyhood innocence is reshaped by his wartime ordeals, which are rendered with terrifying authenticity thanks to the author's research into real bombers' recollections…Ms. Atkinson has one huge trick up her sleeve, but she saves it for the book's final moments to make it that much more devastating. She gets you to that final moment on faith and through writerly seduction. Just know that every salient detail in A God in Ruins, from the silver hare adorning Teddy's pram to the queen's Diamond Jubilee, is here for a fateful reason.
The New York Times Book Review - Tom Perrotta
…you read a novel like Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, a sprawling, unapologetically ambitious saga that tells the story of postwar Britain through the microcosm of a single family, and you remember what a big, old-school novel can do. Atkinson's book covers almost a century, tracks four generations, and is almost inexhaustibly rich in scenes and characters and incidents. It deploys the whole realist bag of tricks, and none of it feels fake or embarrassing. In fact, it's a masterly and frequently exhilarating performance by a novelist who seems utterly undaunted by the imposing challenges she's set for herself…Atkinson's a sly and witty observer, with a gift for finding the perfect detail…
From the Publisher
"A God in Ruins is billed as a companion book to Life After Life. Really though, it stands alone in achievement. It's fiction at it's best."—Sherryl Connelly, The New York Daily News"

A brilliant follow-up."—Katy Waldman, Slate"

Masterful."—Ray Palen, Bookreporter"

Atkinson is a master of structure."—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch"

This is that age-old story—man's fall from grace, and his endless struggle to regain it—made wonderfully, achingly new."—Tricia Springstubb, The Cleveland Plain Dealer"

A hugely impressive and immensely moving novel. Somehow it feels effortless, although clearly that is not the case...Fiction of the very best kind."
Erica Wagner, New Statesman

A novel for people who love novels."—Tom Beer, Newsday"

Ms. Atkinson's thrumming imagination runs on premium prose, a perfect vehicle for conveying characters to new futures."—Susan Balée, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"

A God in Ruins is Kate Atkinson's brilliant follow-up to Life After Life...This time, Atkinson has written what looks like a big, old-fashioned book, with just enough high-concept risks to make readers start riffling back through the pages as soon as they've done...readers...are never quite in the same condition when they finish a book. When it comes to a novel like A God in Ruins, that change will always be for the better."
Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor

A God in Ruins is another triumph for Kate Atkinson...A God in Ruins has a compelling narrative, a myriad of unforgettable scenes, and a bit of the old Atkinson playful craftiness at the very end, a mischievous Ian McEwan-like investigation into the curious ways of fiction writers. Altogether dazzling, A God in Ruins is my pick for the best (so far) novel of 2015."
Linda Wolfe, Fab Over Fifty

Magnificent...Atkinson fluidly executes these chronological loop-de-loops, leaving a reader to marvel at that most banal of epiphanies—how fast life goes by."
Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air"

This follow up [to Life After Life] tracks Ursula's brother, Teddy, a favorite son who flies an RAF bomber during the Second World War and remains kind, thoughtful, and patient through a life of quiet sadness...Teddy, unlike his sister, lives only one life, but Atkinson's deft handling of time, as she jumps from boyhood to old age and back, is impressive."—The New Yorker"

will leave you turning back the pages, wanting to live it again, mixing up past and present in a delightful bold manner."
Natalie Serber, The Sunday Oregonian

Nothing short of a masterpiece. Elegantly structured and beautifully told, it recounts the story of Teddy Todd, the brother of the protagonist of Atkinson's 2013 novel, Life After Life, in his attempt to live a 'good, quiet life' in the 20th century. Characteristically perceptive and poignant, like its predecessor it also gives a vivid and often thrilling account of life during the second world war—seen this time from the air rather than the streets of London."
Paula Hawkins, Author of The Girl on the Train

Library Journal
"If he did survive then in the great afterward he would always try to be kind, to live a good quiet life." So muses Teddy, Ursula's brother in the sensational, time-spinning Life After Life, now given his own voice in a novel that unfolds seamlessly yet doesn't hit the operatic high notes of its predecessor. Teddy, likable yet tentative, a poet manqué working grudgingly in a bank, finds the start of World War II something of a relief. In well-wrought passages, Atkinson admirably shows the momentousness of Teddy's wartime work as a pilot without glamorizing it. Postwar, Teddy settles into the quiet life he imagined, marrying childhood sweetheart Nancy, ending up writing for a local paper, and (sadly) having just one child, Viola. Contentious and irritable (indeed, irritating), the grown Viola barely tolerates her own children or her poor old dad. Why she might be so awful emerges late and a little unsatisfactorily as we finally learn what happens to the rather aloof Nancy, whose loss to the family is hinted at throughout. Teddy, though, remains decent to the end of his long life. Or is it? The final chapter leaves one wondering. VERDICT Beautifully written but emotionally withheld; there's more to disappointed lives then just disappointment. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/14.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson is the internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News?, Started Early, Took My Dog, and Life After Life. She lives in Edinburgh.

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A God in Ruins 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Anne36 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book.  I went right back and re-read it after I finished it the first time.   Her books are all so different.  The Jackson Brodie books are among my favorites.  In fact, I named my dog after the Jackson Brodie character.  Then I read Life  After Life and now A God in Ruins.  You have to go into both of these books with an open mind.... not your normal everyday fiction.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
A God in Ruins is a book of the Todd Family by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. Teddy Todd: younger brother of Ursula, favourite son of Sylvie, model for his Aunt Izzie’s best-selling books, the young man whose life was cut short when he was shot down over Germany in 1944. Or not. During that dreadful war, Teddy never thought about the future: as a bomber pilot flying missions over Germany, he didn’t expect to have one. When he came home as an ex-POW in 1945, a hero, he suddenly, quite unexpectedly, did have a future in front of him. A career (not in his father’s bank, please!), a wife, fatherhood, grandchildren: all were ahead of him in the latter half of the twentieth century. Teddy’s war experience plays a large part in the novel, as it does in his life. But Teddy is not the only narrator of his tale: his parents, his siblings, his spouse, his child and his grandchildren all add to the story of Teddy’s unexpected life from their own perspective. Once again Atkinson gives the reader a set of wholly believable characters, flawed but nonetheless appealing, and their reactions to the challenges life throws at them are natural and credible. And perhaps even the nasty ones have their reasons. There is plenty of humour to counter the lump-in-the-throat moments, and the irony of Ursula’s opinion on reincarnation is quite delicious. And again, Atkinson’s extensive research is apparent in every chapter. A God in Ruins is a companion volume to Atkinson’s earlier Todd Family book and, while it is not necessary to have read Life After Life before reading A God in Ruins, there are so many common characters, events and objects that the reader who has done so will be delighted to once again encounter old friends. Another brilliant Atkinson novel! Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a bit lengthy but good overall
BookLover1010 More than 1 year ago
I gave this book 2 stars because I realize a lot of time and research went into it. There were some great parts of the book as well. However, this has to be the most A.D.D. book I have ever read. I am all for a book that jumps back and forth between past and present, but this book time jumped and story jumped from paragraph to paragraph. It was a bit much. It's like the author had all of these stories and plot points written on tiny pieces of paper, then threw them all up in the air, picked them up randomly off the floor and put the book together. It was very difficult to get through. The first book was better than this one. At least it had some structure to the way it was written. Disappointed.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Great story and witty prose.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I LOVED this book, as I did Life After Life. Her words, just like the perfect steak, you just want to chew and enjoy evey last bite....till it is gone, and you are full, but so sad that it is over. Maybe more like sex, than steak!
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Best book ever !!!!!
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I dont know just bored... extremely bored haha
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and fun to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like a god in ruin it was cool.