28. ‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson.

Thank you, Mum! This is literally the best book I have read so far this year, I picked it up at random from the shelf, sat down to have a quick look at it with a cup of tea, and finished it in one uninterrupted and unexpected five hour binge session, (the Mr had to go and buy fish and chips for supper again!) I laughed and wept, and was completely and utterly enthralled! Enough of a recommendation? It should be. This is a work by a novelist completely on top of her game.

A God in Ruins is the companion book to Ms Atkinson’s previous work, Life after Life, which I have not read but certainly intend to, however it is a stand alone book; you don’t have to have read the previous one at all to enjoy it – as I said, I haven’t yet. It tells the story of Teddy Todd as he negotiates the twentieth century after miraculously surviving the Second World War as a Halifax bomber pilot. As the blurb on the back says, ‘his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never thought he would have’.

Teddy is so likeable. He tries so hard to do the right thing, vows to himself that if he survives, he will live a kind and thoughtful life, and he does. He marries his childhood sweetheart, becomes a teacher and then a journalist, does everything possible for his, shall we say, difficult daughter Viola, loves his wife in a steady, dependable way. But his life. like so many others, has been irrevocably altered by his experiences, and by using the technique of jumping backwards and forwards in time, Ms Atkinson enables us to ‘know’ Teddy so well.

Her descriptive passages are awesome; especially harrowing are the detailed accounts of the horrific reality of bombing missions over Germany. Her research was clearly impeccable, and her description of the firebombing of Cologne is spine chilling. Her characters come alive on the page, and even her use of the literary trick of jumping from past to future, and back again is done so skilfully that there is no interruption to the ‘flow’ of the novel. Her characters are vividly drawn and completely engaging, her depiction of the family home, Fox Hollow, with its Growlery and roses in the Home Counties is exactly as it should be.

And finally, the ending. I cannot say more without spoiling it for you – but it is one of the most unexpected conclusions I’ve ever come across. Astonishing. READ IT!!!!

As always, if you would like Mum’s copy of this brilliant, brilliant novel, please get in touch with me either through here or the Facebook page, and it will give me immense pleasure to gift it forward to you. If you have missed out on Mum’s copy, here is a link to buy yourself one on Amazon. I promise you, this book is ten out of ten in every respect!

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