Book Review: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God In RuinsWhat’s it about?

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own.

My thoughts

This was our book club choice for January which we met up and discussed this week. Overall, the consensus was that it was a great choice; one member went so far as to say it’s one of the best she’s ever read and a new favourite. I sat on the fence a little more.

There’s no doubt that Kate Atkinson is an exceptional writer, has brilliant plots and characters but I got a little lost and bored in the middle of this book which I didn’t experience with Life after Life. Had I not read them back to back I could quite well have had a different result, it was just that I preferred WW2 through Ursula’s eyes and her experiences. Although Teddy is one of the loveliest characters you’ll ever meet in a book and his tales were often heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. I just felt the book was over-wordy and probably 100 pages too long.

I also have mixed feelings about the ending and without wanting to spoil it made me feel all Gone Girl again. There’s no doubt it’s briliantly plotted and researched but I felt cheated; that I’d read over 550 pages and, well, totally unexpected. In hindsight, as always, the signs were there but they need bigger, louder sirens for me to pick up on them 😉

This book is a fantastic way to discover what it was like as a pilot of a bomber during WW2 and the effects that has without reading an encyclopedia or reference book and the bombing raids reminded me of the movie Memphis Belle (which I loved).

My rating of 3/5 stars (liked it) on Goodreads was based purely on my enjoyment level because it was a little bit of a slog to get to the end.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Kate Atkinson

Website | Facebook

Talk of the Town

WWW Wednesday (February 10th)

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m currently reading…

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

This looks to be a book very of our time; where one click online can last a lifetime!

ViralThe blurb

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?


I recently finished

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

I had high hopes for this one but it fell a little flat for me. The scenes with the initial meeting on the train and the subsequent murders were really good; very tense in fact but the rest of it I just felt was padding. Think this was more about my own expectations though.

Strangers on a trainThe blurb

Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.

 

I’ve also read….

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

This was our latest book club which we’ll actually be discussing this evening. In all honesty, I found most of it a bit of a chore to get through. It’s a shame really because I really felt for the main character, Teddy, and his experiences but overall I found it over-wordy and over-long.

A God In RuinsThe blurb

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.


What’s up next?

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

I’d seen this book doing the rounds on other blogs and receiving high praise. I was lucky enough to be approved for a copy via Netgalley.

The Girl in the IceThe blurb

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? …


Have you read any of this week’s choices or share what books you’re reading?

WWW Wednesday (February 3rd)

Hey I’m back posting this week as I’ve finished a book….yay 🙂

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m currently reading…

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

This is our latest book club read and is the quite lengthy companion novel to Life after Life. I wish I’d read Life after Life a while ago rather than back to back with this one as I’m feeling a little bogged down with the Todd family.

A God In RuinsThe blurb

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own.


I recently finished

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

An interesting and clever book but a timeline that jumps all over the place which makes it hard to keep up in places. Review here.

Life after LifeThe blurb

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.


What’s up next?

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

I recently bought The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson and I’d read on another blog that it was similar in plot to Strangers on a Train. I’ve never read any Patricia Highsmith before so I’m reading this one first.

Strangers on a trainThe blurb

Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.

 


Have you read any of this week’s choices or share what books you’re reading?

Book Review: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Life after LifeWhat’s it about?

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

My thoughts

This book had been sitting on my Kindle for well over a year but I felt I had to read it when A God in Ruins was chosen as our next book club read. They’re both lengthy books so I just hoped I’d have enough time to squeeze them both in.

It took a while to get into the book; what with the changing time line and the several deaths of Ursula Todd I seemed to be reading constantly but making little progress which I did find frustrating.

Having said that, it’s a very cleverly interwoven plot with the author creating several alternative lives for Ursula that span WW1 & WW2 with some of the other character’s stories staying almost identical, while some change considerably.  At least 3 of her lives were quite traumatic and I found myself almost hoping that she would die and this wouldn’t be her last life.

The blurb would have you believe that she was able to change her future lives but I didn’t interpret it like that. I don’t think she was ever truly aware of what was happening to her and therefore able to make constructive changes next time in her lives…I believed it to be down to chance.

The bombing scenes during the Blitz were particularly heartbreaking, atmospheric and realistic; these were the best parts of the book for me as they made me read a lot faster to find out what happens.

In all honesty it’s not the best book to read on a Kindle as I wanted to skip back to previous chapters and find certain passages but that would have been more of a hassle.  Overall, all very Groundhog Day and Butterfly Effect-ish and I think if you enjoyed The Versions of Us you will like this intelligently constructed novel.  If you do have a go at this, don’t give up. It’s worth persevering to the end.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Kate Atkinson

Website | Facebook

WWW Wednesday (January 20th)

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m currently reading…

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

I’ve had to postpone my reading of The Rabbit Back Literature Society that I had planned to read next from last week’s WWW post. This is due to our next book club read being A God in Ruins which is the companion novel/follow up to Life after Life.  I’d had Life after Life on my Kindle for such a long time so wanted to squeeze this in before A God In Ruins. I just hope I have time to finish both as they are lengthy books.

Life after LifeThe blurb

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.


I recently finished

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

I had high hopes for this book but for me, it never really got going. This may be because of my expectations and what I thought it was going to be but overall I just felt meh and so what about it.
Pretty IsThe blurb
Lois and Carly-May are just twelve years old when they’re abducted, driven across the country, and imprisoned in a remote, isolated hunting lodge for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they form a bond which will never be broken . . .
Decades later, both Lois and Carly-May have built new lives and identities for themselves. Lois, a professor of literature, is shaken when an obsessive student reminds her of the man who kidnapped her, a man she saw shoot himself on the porch twenty years before.
Out in LA, Carly-May is drinking too much and watching her beauty-queen looks fade, clinging to the last remnants of a once-promising career as an actress. When she reads a shockingly familiar screenplay, she warily she takes a role she knows is based on events from her own life.
Increasingly haunted by the devastating experience that shaped both their lives, Lois and Carly-May are drawn together again in a world that both echoes and falsifies their beautiful, terrible story. 


What’s up next?

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

This is our next book club choice which we’ll be discussing February 10th.

A God In RuinsThe blurb

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own.


Have you read any of this week’s choices or share what books you’re reading?