A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

77%

44 Critic Reviews

...“A God in Ruins” is by no means an antiwar novel. If anything, it’s a love letter to the men and boys who fought on the British side, infused with an attitude closer to “The Greatest Generation” than to “Catch-22.”
-NY Times

Synopsis


One of the Best Books of 2015--TIME, NPR, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Seattle Times, The Kansas City Star, Kirkus, Bookpage, Hudson Booksellers, AARP


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.

 

About Kate Atkinson

See more books from this Author
KATE ATKINSON won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her latest novel Life After Life was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.
 
Published May 5, 2015 by Little, Brown and Company. 475 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon9
Peak Rank on May 24 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A God in Ruins
All: 44 | Positive: 39 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 16 2015

...Atkinson takes another sidelong look at the natures of time and reality in this imaginative novel, her ninth...But do we really have just one life, as Ursula insists? It’s a point worth pondering. A grown-up, elegant fairy tale, at least of a kind, with a humane vision of people in all their complicated splendor.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Feb 06 2015

Using narrative tricks that range from the subtlest sleight of hand to direct address, she makes us feel the power of storytelling not as an intellectual conceit, but as a punch in the gut.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Tom Perrotta on May 04 2015

...“A God in Ruins” is by no means an antiwar novel. If anything, it’s a love letter to the men and boys who fought on the British side, infused with an attitude closer to “The Greatest Generation” than to “Catch-22.”

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Apr 30 2015

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.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie Merritt on May 10 2015

A God in Ruins, together with its predecessor, is Atkinson’s finest work, and confirmation that her genre-defying writing continues to surprise and dazzle.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tessa Hadley on Apr 29 2015

A God in Ruins is full of good arguments against forgetting. Yet it seems as if we can’t truly remember the past until we’ve measured how completely we’ve lost it.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Rickard on May 04 2015

Her research was so thorough that she lists credits and a bibliography after her vital author’s notes. The reader will at times need to rest the book for a few moments to recover before plunging ahead. It might help, too, to have a box of tissues handy.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jun 08 2015

Atkinson's skills as a suspense writer serve her well here. It's not 'till the final pages of the novel that we readers learn who makes it through the war and who doesn't.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jun 08 2015

Atkinson's skills as a suspense writer serve her well here. It's not 'till the final pages of the novel that we readers learn who makes it through the war and who doesn't.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on May 06 2015

Each viewpoint loses crucial information. But each one is equally useful in exposing the Todd family's concealed inner workings.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on May 01 2015

As fluid in time as it is in perspective, the story weaves back and forth between Teddy’s childhood and old age, his grandchildren’s lives...and the painfully hilarious reflections of the charmless Viola.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on May 01 2015

As fluid in time as it is in perspective, the story weaves back and forth between Teddy’s childhood and old age, his grandchildren’s lives...and the painfully hilarious reflections of the charmless Viola.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Randy Boyagoda on Apr 24 2015

...with her excellent new book, Atkinson reveals just how admirable such an ordinary man’s life can be, and what heroism lies in living as decently as possible through times that are far from decent.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Corinna Lothar on Oct 15 2015

“God in Ruins” is a fascinating saga, rich in character and thought. It is somewhat repetitious and the jumping between years can create difficulty in following the plot line. The numerous asides are irritating. However, Miss Atkinson is a fine writer...

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 16 2015

Throughout the novel, there are interspersed passages from a fictional storybook called The Adventures of Augustus. Ursula used to tease her brother that he was Augustus. These excerpts play nicely with the story of Teddy Todd and offer another example of what could have been. A GOD IN RUINS is a truly masterful work.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on May 01 2015

You don't have to read "Life After Life" to get "A God in Ruins," and sadly, the new book doesn't live up to the promise of its predecessor.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Elizabeth Renzetti on May 14 2015

In her Author’s Note, Atkinson hints at what she was trying to achieve, but I’m not sure a book should require the author tapping you on the shoulder to understand its purpose.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on May 08 2015

Unlike Life After Life, which began flamboyantly and had a large cast of nuanced characters, this novel’s rewards come late in its pages.

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RT Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Elissa Petruzzi on May 04 2015

In the hands of an author less skilled than Atkinson, a book about how life is long and mundane would be a slog. But by taking a character so revered, and revealing how his child despises him, his wife mostly appreciates him, his career is less than inspired, we're given a close look at what we all get — just one life.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Apr 30 2015

Ruins never quite reaches Life’s dizzying, otherworldly heights. Instead, it’s more like actual life: sometimes dreary and disappointing and often not what we dreamed it would be at all, but still absolutely worth taking on.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by MATT CAIN on May 02 2015

So, it’s strong stuff but always expertly handled. And, just in case you haven’t got over the disappointment of having to follow one single version of Teddy’s life, in the novel’s final pages there’s a twist that transports us back to the dizzying array of possibilities offered up in Life After Life.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by Mary Hoffman on Apr 23 2015

...it is as beguilingly written as anything that comes from the hand of Atkinson and that keeps one's interest even through some of the odd infelicities...But A God in Ruins is as much of an indulgence for her as for us.

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by James Walton on May 11 2015

Despite its unashamed tricksiness, Life After Life never forgot the old-school virtues of plot, character and perfectly paced, emotionally charged storytelling...Displaying all the same virtues, A God in Ruins now picks up and sticks to just one of those versions, or a slight variation on it...

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Mike Maggio on May 21 2015

...A God in Ruins hopscotches back and forth in time, spanning four generations of the Todd family from 1925 through 2012...In this sweeping novel, she has reconstructed a world from history and has taken us on a journey that not many of us are privileged to join. Put this one on your short list.

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The Boston Globe

Good
Reviewed by Ellis Avery on May 02 2015

This is a staggeringly gorgeous book, offering through the story of one small, good, imperfect life, the chance to grieve and cherish so many more.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Amy Scribner on May 16 2015

Atkinson effortlessly toggles to and from Teddy’s childhood, the war, and his daughter’s and grandchildren’s lives in a story so seamless that one barely notices skipping among decades.

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20Something Reads

Good
Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 08 2015

In A GOD IN RUINS, we examine the life of Teddy Todd. The text is written in such a way that readers will literally lose themselves in it while Teddy's life passes like a dream before their eyes...A GOD IN RUINS is a truly masterful work.

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Express

Above average
Reviewed by Charlotte Heathcote on May 01 2015

There is a twist in the tale, one that was heartbreaking and to my mind unnecessary, but it only very slightly dented my pleasure in reading an ambitious, sensitive and beautifully written novel by one of our most gifted storytellers.

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Tampa Bay Times

Good
on Apr 29 2015

Atkinson does a skillful job of interweaving history and fiction. Even more impressively, she combines brilliantly rendered traditional narrative and warmly believable characters with a postmodern sense of the nature of fiction, the story aware of itself as story. (Just wait for her ending flourish.)

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The Columbus Dispatch

Above average
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on May 10 2015

The novel stands on its own, not requiring the reader to have read Life After Life, though a reading of the earlier book certainly enriches this one. Atkinson occasionally nods toward it...

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Newsday

Above average
Reviewed by Tom Beer on May 13 2015

At first, I felt a bit let down by the novel's conclusion -- I'll say no more -- but upon reflection what really stays with me is the magnificent tapestry of English family life that Atkinson has created, a novel for people who love novels.

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We Love This Book

Good
Reviewed by Anna James on May 06 2015

...beyond the expert storytelling, and what makes this book truly special, is Atkinson's exploration of and ode to stories themselves; why and how we tell them and what they mean to us.

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Scotsman.com

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Bradley on May 19 2015

...while Teddy’s story may be “more boring” than Ursula’s, Atkinson’s telling of it is not. He is the God in Ruins. He is the everyman in ruins, his life’s potential cut short not by death, like Ursula’s, but by experience – and the horrors of war.

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Journal Sentinel

Good
Reviewed by Jim Higgins on May 01 2015

Near the end of this smart, engaging novel, Atkinson subverts its seeming straightforwardness with a move that suggests this Prospero has not renounced magic after all. It altered how I understood what happened to that point but did not invalidate it, nor does it diminish the skill and power Atkinson brings to her portrayal of Teddy's life.

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The New Zealand Herald

Good
Reviewed by Laurel Stowell on Apr 24 2015

...she can't resist turning the whole notion of fiction upside down at the end. This was a book to wrap around yourself, like a whole century of British history.

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The Coast

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie Jones on May 01 2015

...a spellbinding blend of truth and fiction that pivots on a single imperfect and fascinating life.

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Stuff

Good
Reviewed by ANNA ROGERS on May 01 2015

A God in Ruins is not Life After Life, and nor should or could it be. It is a rich, moving and superbly crafted book that, in its own way, creates a fictional world every bit as compelling and memorable as that of its much-lauded predecessor.

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Readings

Good
Reviewed by Chris Gordon on May 16 2015

A God in Ruins is a novel that can be read without Life after Life; the story is told as a companion rather than a sequel. Nevertheless, your imagination will be richer for having both books by your bed.

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Bite the Book

Good
on Feb 05 2015

Kate Atkinson has written a novel that fits perfectly with her previous one. Each novel can be enjoyed on their own or together and read in any order. I can’t wait to go back and revisit Ursula’s lives with this new layer to enrich it.

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The Nature of Things

Above average
Reviewed by Dorothy Borders on May 28 2015

I love the way that Atkinson tells this story in a circular, non-chronological fashion. It makes the tale more enticing, more revealing of the personalities and motivations of the characters, I think, than a straightforward chronological narrative would have.

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https://savidgereads.wordpress.com

Good
on May 16 2015

As you may have guessed I thought A God in Ruins was rather ruddy marvellous. It charmed me, entertained me, thrilled me, beguiled me and then in the simplest, smallest and most understated of moments completely broke me when I never expected it to.

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https://forwinternights.wordpress.com

Good
on May 16 2015

Prepare to laugh and cry – and possibly cry an awful lot – as you get to know this man as he lives through his life, teaching us as he goes about what the years have taught him about home, love, family, war, nature, duty and death. I am overwhelmed.

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Our Book Reviews Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Maryom on May 08 2015

A God in Ruins is another absolute stunner. Carefully and cleverly constructed, the story moves back and forth in time - to Teddy's childhood and his grandchildren's futures, sometimes revisiting events from a different angle - but always circling those formative, life-changing war-time years.

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A Reader's Place

Good
on Mar 08 2015

Atkinson has complete control over her narrative and characters; it’s such a pleasure to surrender to her stories. I’ve read all of Atkinson’s novels, starting with Behind the Scenes at the Museum; sorry I can’t read them again for the first time.

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Reader Rating for A God in Ruins
79%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 865 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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