These two books by Kate Atkinson came highly recommended to me to be read as companion pieces, which made a lot of sense after I finished reading them. I would have read A God in Ruins just for the title alone, but found the continuing saga of the Todd characters worth my attention from the first jarring chapters of Life After Life.
I admire the skillful and masterful writing of Kate Atkinson, but found a good deal of tedious characterization and details of World War II off putting. But her books are the kind I love to analyze and write essays about, delving into “the meaning of” one thing and another, and having something to ponder.
Curious? Read other reviews of these wonderful novels:
New York Times Sunday Book Review –
Subject to Revision: ‘Life After Life,’ by Kate Atkinson
“Its [Life AFter Life’s] heroine, Ursula Todd, keeps dying, then dying again. She dies when she is being born, on a snowy night in 1910. As a child, she drowns, falls off a roof and contracts influenza. Later, she commits suicide and is murdered. She is killed during the German bombing of London in World War II and ends her life in the ruins of Berlin in 1945. Each time Ursula dies, Atkinson — a British writer best known here as the author of Case Histories, the first in a series of highly entertaining mysteries featuring the sleuth Jackson Brodie — resurrects her and sets her on one of the many alternate courses that her destiny might have taken.” Read the entire review>>
The Guardian –
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson review – her finest work
“A God in Ruins is the story of Teddy’s war and its legacy, ‘a ‘companion’ piece rather than a sequel’, according to the author. At first glance it appears to be a more straightforward novel than Life After Life, though it shares the same composition, flitting back and forth in time so that a chapter from Teddy’s childhood in 1925 sits alongside a fragment of his grandchildren’s childhood in the 1980s, before jumping back to 1947, when Teddy and his wife Nancy, newly married, are trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the devastation: ‘The war had been a great chasm and there could be no going back to the other side, to the people they were before. It was as true for them as it was for the whole of poor, ruined Europe.'” Read the entire review>>