‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson was the subject of Grannus Musings bookclub in March . The book has been well received in the media and all reviews testified to a very well crafted and beautifully written novel. For the Grannus Musers however, the dilemma was – were we all going to agree that it was a fine book and run out of related issues to discuss? We need never have feared that this merry and erudite band would run out of conversation and ‘A God in Ruins’ presented many layers for our consideration.
The story is about war and its effects on people and generations following. Those of you familiar with Kate Atkinson’s previous novel ‘Life after Life’ will be conversant with her tool of disrupting chronology and she puts this to great effect in ‘A god’. This novel actually picks up some characters from ‘Life’ but we agreed (mainly) that ‘A God’ can stand on its own without reading ‘Life’. Indeed some of the group who had not been enamoured by ‘Life’ have now gone back to it and found it very satisfying.
We all felt that we had learned hugely about life during WW2 especially for those involved in combat and Ms Atkinson doesn’t pull her punches in describing its horrors. Some characters are ‘splendidly monstrous’ and Teddy, the central character is an effective foil for others’ shortcomings. His character and values were much admired by the entire group. Teddy’s war is the engine that drives the novel and Ms Atkinson’s extensive research transforms effectively into the drama of real life.
There is however a twist in the ending which was much debated by the group. We will not mention more of this so as not to spoil it for future readers.
– Linda Kirkwood