Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review of A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (2015, Black Swan)

Peter Todd has led a full life. At times eventful, much mundane. A God in Ruins charts its path in a non-chronological order, and that of his wife, self-centred daughter and grandchildren. His childhood in the stockbroker belt and wartime exploits as a bomber captain flying over Germany and Occupied Europe haunt his subsequent trials, tribulations, and attempts to live a good life. The hook and strength of the telling is its eloquently realised characterisation and charting of familial relationships. Peter and his family are three dimensional characters with depth and the social situations are freighted with realism, and Peter’s wartime experiences have an insider quality and perspective. There is strong emotional resonance throughout. The to-ing and fro-ing across time added to rather than detracted from the story, though it sometimes felt too much time was spent with Viola, his awful daughter. While it was an interesting and at times captivating read, it lack the novel hook of its companion book, Life After Life, and the ending might make little sense without knowledge of the idea explored in that book. An engaging, well told read.

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