A God in Ruins

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1,717 Ratings

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4 out of 5 stars
By Janna Wong Healy on 10-27-15


Full disclosure: I am not a diehard Kate Atkinson fan. I've read some of her past works and they just doesn't engage me like they do other readers. That said, I did like the setting and main character of this latest story. Teddy is a wonderful man, a hero in my mind, and someone I would love to sit and a chat with. He is almost the same age as my father, who also flew bombing raids (to Japan, not Europe) and I saw similarities in their behavior when they returned home from the war.

If only the entire novel were about Teddy but instead, we are treated to a storyline involving Viola, the obnoxious and awful daughter of Teddy and his wife Nancy. She is thoroughly unlikable and I hated spending so much time in her company when I could have been spending it with Teddy instead.

The story winds through many decades and ends in a satisfactory manner for most of the characters. But, it was a long road.

The narrator, Alex Jennings, did a wonderful job of capturing the energy and voices of so many of the characters.

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31 of 34 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 02-16-16

Mysterious Past--Mysterious Future

A completely compelling follow up/companion piece to Atkinson's Life After Life. I don't want to risk spoiling the story so I won't ramble on here. My only suggestion is to read both books in order and don't leave too long between the listens. I disagree with the publisher in that A God in Ruins, to me, is not a free standing novel--it absolutely needs Life After Life. Atkinson does not disappoint. A beautiful book. I loved it.

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52 of 58 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tamara on 07-03-16

Elegant, thought provoking work

I have never in my life finished a book and then immediately started reading/listening to it again. But that is exactly what happened last week when I finished listening to "A God in Ruins." I did not want to let go of these characters, and I wanted to go back and find any small thing I might have missed along the journey of this story. And I have to say, the writing and the story were just as compelling the second time around.

My enjoyment was also hugely enhanced by Alex Jennings' perfect and invisible narration. This guy can read a book!

There is so much in this book-- an engaging multi-generational family story, war history and its aftermath, beautiful language and imagery, humor, love, tragedy, and horror-- Kate Jackson has given us a stunner of a novel, and Alex Jennings' performance brings it all to life.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Meeno on 10-06-15

What a fabulous novel to stumble upon.

In all my recent historical inquiries, trying to piece together in my head the Century that birthed me, the tender inquisition of this novel is such loving surprise. This is one of those books about time and family and age and war and reprieve and forgiveness and ascension and growing old in all inglorious and beautiful ways that people do, or don't when they're shot out of the air like a lark lost to and of its song. This book is suffused of that certain light whose voice seems to be speaking just precisely to you.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Peter on 09-15-15

The Greatness of an Ordinary Man

What made the experience of listening to A God in Ruins the most enjoyable?

Atkinson's style and craft permit you to know her characters as you would your own family. You get to know them intimately with both their flaws and pettiness as well as their great moments. We are all like Teddy and Nancy, Viola, Gertie,and Sonny.She permits you to join in their lives as if it was your own. Moving and beautifully done.

What did you like best about this story?

The in depth portrayal of the characters

What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His timing was perfect and his smooth alteration in accents between London, Yorkshire, Scotland, Australia, and America was stunning and contributed in a major way to my enjoyment of this book. That is an aspect I would not have appreciated if I had read it in book form.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

An Ordinary Life.

Any additional comments?

This book moved me. The writing and the narration of the writing are both spectacular making me want to continue my listen at the end of each chapter and sad when it was over. I also felt that the RAF bombing scenes were done with great attention to historical detail giving me a much better understanding of what the air campaign in WWII was about. Great book. Great characters.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Annie M. on 05-13-15

Masterful follow-up to "Life After Life"

What made the experience of listening to A God in Ruins the most enjoyable?

Atkinson is a literary writer of the highest caliber, a magician with words and story. When I heard there was a follow-up to her supremely artful and wondrous "Life After Life," I RAN to Audible. A GOD IN RUINS is yet another feast for lovers of carefully culled words, and deeply developed characters. My only complaint is that, at 16 hours, it STILL wasn't long enough for me.

What other book might you compare A God in Ruins to and why?

Obviously, it is Atkinson's LIFE AFTER LIFE, where we first fell in love with Teddy Todd, now the protagonist of A GOD IN RUINS. But I also put this book in a the same category as Anthony Doer's ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, as well as any of Pat Barker's brilliant WWI books, and also Louisa Young's MY DEAR, I WANTED TO TELL YOU, and LOVE AND TREASURE. I might even add to that UNBROKEN.

What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

You can tell that Kate Atkinson puts great and careful thought into each word she chooses to put on the page. Alex Jennings does honor to the author by beautifully voicing each character--and not getting in the way.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did. I listened in a two-day period. All the while thinking, "Don't listen. Stay away. Let it last."I'm taking a week off and then starting it over. Unlike a fine wine that is gone once it's been consumed, I can thankfully listen to A GOD IN RUINS over and over.

Any additional comments?

I really loved the fact that at the end of this book, Atkinson actually discusses how she came to do a follow-up to LIFE AFTER LIFE, and then why she put it into the format she did. She explained her desire to write a book specifically about the British bombing raids of WWII. If you have not read LIFE AFTER LIFE, you might still enjoy this book. But if you read this book first, I am almost positive you'll want to then go back and read LIFE AFTER LIFE.I am so grateful to have read this touching, introspective, thought provoking look at the moral dilemmas of those fighting "the good war." I wish I could give it ten stars.

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33 of 39 people found this review helpful

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