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A God in Ruins

(Todd Family #2)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  49,695 ratings  ·  6,320 reviews
In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to fa ...more
Hardcover, 468 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company (first published May 1st 2015)
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Bruce Katz Not even a little. It's a companion to "Life", not a sequel. You don't have to read "Life" at all to appreciate "Ruins."…moreNot even a little. It's a companion to "Life", not a sequel. You don't have to read "Life" at all to appreciate "Ruins."(less)
Rachel A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams' Ralph Waldo …moreA man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams' Ralph Waldo Emerson (less)

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Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
man, this book. chills, i tell you, everywhere chills. this is a companion book to Life After Life, and technically, it is "teddy's story." teddy, you will recall from life, is ursula's little brother. if you have not read Life After Life - what the crap is wrong with you?? go!! read!! meet us back here when you're done!

i say "technically," because although teddy is definitely the center of this book, we are still treated to the stories and perspectives of some of our other friends from life, as
Will Byrnes
“A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams.“ – Ralph Waldo Emerson – Nature
Thus opens Kate Atkinson’s companion work to her much acclaimed Life After Life. While the earlier work focused on The Blitz, Germany’s prolonged bombing of London and other English cities during World War II, this one looks at the Allied bombing campaign against Germany, first against strategic resources and later targeting c
Violet wells
The second novel about a Bomber Command pilot I’ve read in the space of as many months and both A God in Ruins and The Way Back to Florence have turned out to be fabulous enthralling if very different novels. The pilot is in this novel is Teddy, brother of Ursula in Life After Life. The novel spans his long life and offsets and hones it with the lives of his daughter and his two grandchildren.

As ever with Atkinson there are layers of artifice in this novel – on one level, her novels are general
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Kate Atkinson’s time-bending novel, Life After Life, the author toyed with time and created several different timelines and narratives for her main character, Ursula Todd. Now, in this companion piece, the focus is on Teddy, Ursula’s brother, and his life as an RAF Halifax pilot and under-the-radar hero.

Atkinson holds the magical power to shape time to fit her story and this one moves seamlessly from Teddy’s last treacherous flights (fewer than half of RAF pilots actually survived World War I
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess I just loved everything about this book except the cover but I won't knock any stars off for that. Kate Atkinson writes like a dream. The early parts of this book are slow but the prose is so good the slowness does not matter. And it needs to be read carefully anyway because at times the story flits backwards and forwards and the reader needs to be alert in order to keep track.

I enjoyed the fact that the book is set in the same world as Life After Life but focuses on Teddy instead of Ur
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I hope this doesn’t sound conceited, but you might crow, too, if you had just written one BILLION reviews. I have the magic of combinatorics to thank. There are nine different fill-in-the-blank sections in this review that allow ten separate candidates each which in the end will embody the text. That makes 10 to the 9th power (1,000,000,000) possible outcomes. If you want your own individualized version, take the digits of your Social Security Number or any other 9-digit sequence of your choosin ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is another case where I took a chance to read an author's book having not been a fan of a previous book.
If you read my review of "Life After Life", you'll see, I wasn't 'ga-ga' over that book!!!
I didn't 'jump' for joy when this first book came out either. PASS were my first thoughts!
Overtime ... I heard and read a few things about this 'companion' novel to have me re-consider ...( enough to enter a Goodreads give-a-way). No, I didn't win...
but my local thrift box had a 'like new' copy for
Perhaps the element of this novel that most moved me was the arrogant dismissive way the young often view older generations, especially children with regards to their parents. This is highlighted in the relationship between the obnoxiously brilliant Viola and her father Teddy. Teddy is/was a Bomber Command pilot during WW2. Almost nightly he goes through the harrowing experience of flying over Nazi Germany; the repressed guilt of dropping bombs on “innocent” civilians; the awareness that his dea ...more
Sharon Bolton
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Despite the owl, which continued to hoot its unholy lullaby, he fell almost immediately into the deep and innocent sleep of the hopeful.”

First the confession. I didn’t really like Life After Life. Oh, I admit, it was a very clever idea, beautifully written, but for me, something was missing. It was all a bit random and, at times, (I may as well be honest) a wee bit annoying.

Something of a mixed blessing, then, to be sent an ARC of the “companion piece”, A God In Ruins. It’s a beautiful, limit
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shortly before I finished this book last night, I read of the death of Nicholas Winton, aka Britain's Schindler, at the age of 106. He lived through the same time period, with a few years' difference on either side, as Atkinson's fictional Teddy, the favorite sibling of Ursula from Life After Life. While I was immediately captured by the latter book, this companion novel took a while for me to get into as I wondered where it was going. The ultimate destination is a spoiler and I'll address my is ...more
This has been described as a sequel to Life After Life, but as Kate Atkinson says in her Author's Note at the end, "I like to think of it as a 'companion piece' rather than a sequel". It is similarly audacious and if anything even more moving, and I devoured it in three days.

This time centre stage is taken by Teddy Todd, the younger brother of Ursula, the heroine of Life After Life. The core story tells of his life as a bomber pilot in the Second World War, which is vividly described and emotion
Mar 21, 2015 marked it as didnt-finish
I just cannot deal with Viola. Just no.
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: What had gone into the making of Teddy? Not slugs and snails, it was true, but generation upon generation of Beresfords and Todds, all coming to one singular point in a cold bed in the chill of an autumn night when his father had caught hold of the golden rope of his mother's hair and hadn't let go until he had hauled them both to the far shore (they had many euphemisms for the act). As they lay amongst the shipwreck of the marital bed they each felt slightly befuddled by the unexpecte ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
I DNF'd this book last night.

I was so bored with A God in Ruins that I skipped the second half of the book and advanced to the end of the book.

There is a twist at the end of the story, but it was too little and too late, and I had kind of predicted it anyway.

As with Life After Life, it was not the writing that put me off. Kate Atkinson clearly has a talent for writing beautiful prose. My problem was again with the plot.

I found it very hard to get invested in the story of Teddy, the brother of Ur
Julie Christine
“The whole edifice of civilization turned out to be constructed from an unstable mix of quicksand and imagination.”
― Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins

"It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by"
-Frank Sinatra, As Time Goes By

In the 2013 déjà-vu epic Life After Life Kate Atkinson played out "what if?" in a loop-de-loop plot that tossed narrative structure to the wind. It is a brilliant, confounding, playful and po
Heidi The Reader
Even though Kate Atkinson took readers back into the beautiful world that she created for the Todd family, this story wasn't nearly as enjoyable as Life After Life.

This time, the story focused on Teddy. It is told through the mixed up timeline that I've come to expect from Atkinson. We get to see Teddy's relationships, family and inner thoughts.

It didn't have the magic of Ursula's story, in my opinion. In Life After Life, I was enthralled. For the majority of A God in Ruins, I was not.

I was surp
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"A man is a God in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal,as gently as we awake from dreams" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this companion piece to Life After Life Atkinson writes about Teddy Todd: beloved younger brother of Ursula, would-be poet, husband, father, grandfather, World War II bomber pilot. In it, she breathes life into themes that are both extraordinary and mundane: the shortness and fragility of life, the certainty of death, the fall from gra
I regret so much that I never got back to write a review close to when I finished reading this book. It's unfair to my reading experience, the book and the author. But I didn't want to leave this spot empty forever so I will add a bit. For those who have read Life After Life, I definitely recommend this. For those who haven't, it likely will stand alone but will lose some of it's meaning because of the inter-related stories.

I am going to include what I wrote in a late status update when I finis
Gary  the Bookworm
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joanne Harris
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I received an ARC of this from the publisher. The cover of the book reads: What if the new Kate Atkinson were even better than the last? Well, A God in Ruins is in some ways similar to Life After Life. It’s a companion piece, built along a similarly complex timeline and focusing on the life of Ursula Todd’s younger brother Teddy; his part in the War; his marriage; his reluctant navigation of the perilous, shifting waters of the twentieth century. Like all Kate Atkinson’s work, it is a masterly
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is why I read.

I first met Kate Atkinson in Life after Life, which, while not quite being a five-star read for me, made me want to explore her work further. A God in Ruins, a companion to Life after Life, revisits the same characters and adds layers of story and understanding to the lives of the Todd family. (You do not have to read Life after Life first; they are not chronologically sequenced).

The heart of this novel is Teddy, an RAF bomber pilot in World War II, the sister of Ursula
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I hated myself for not loving this book. I was stunned by Life after Life. I waited anxiously for this book. And while I did love many parts, I didn't like others. Atkinson is a wonderful writer, her characters are all interesting and unique. Her stories are quite compelling, disturbing, historically perfect. I ate up everything, except for the actual war stories. While Teddy was flying, piloting, I found myself skipping over those parts. They held no interest for me, and I was mad at myself but ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

This second book in the 'Todd Family' saga concentates on Teddy Todd. It works well as a standalone.


"A God in Ruins" revolves around Teddy Todd, who - in a nutshell - grew up in the English countryside, was the apple of his mother's eye, lost his loving father, was close to his sister Ursula, became a bomber pilot in WWII, married his childhood sweetheart, worked as a journalist, had a horrid narcissistic daughter, helped raise his grandchildren, got old, and died.

The book rep
Atkinson returns to her theme of “What If” in this companion volume to Life After Life in which we met Ursula Todd and many possible iterations of her life. Ursula’s brother Teddy and his family take center stage in this novel and the generation gap is caught beautifully as Atkinson articulates the view from Ted and that of his only daughter, Viola. Viola’s son and daughter, Sunny and Bertie, exhibit an equal distance from understanding their own mother’s life choices and personality.

Kate Atkin
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite authors. I love her Jackson Brody detective series. I loved the quirky Life After Life in which the heroine, Ursula, keeps dying and coming back to life. Not being much of a reader of war stories (with exceptions such as the brilliant The Things They Carried) I was apprehensive about A God in Ruins, the story of Ursula's beloved brother Teddy, described as a companion novel to Life After Life. The book tells the story of Teddy's experience as a fighter pilot d ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gobsmacked and in tears at the end. Full review to follow. A worthy sequel to Life After Life, and I'd argue made the better if you read them in order, but also a thing of Beauty and Art (nods to Sylvie) on its own. ...more
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
“As you got older and time went on, you realized that the distinction between truth and fiction didn’t really matter because eventually everything disappeared into the soupy, amnesiac mess of history. Personal or political, it made no difference.”

What if? Almost exactly a year ago, I enjoyed Ursula’s repeating “What if?” story in Atkinson’s Life After Life, (which I reviewed here and I was looking forward to this about brother Teddy. But I was more than
switterbug (Betsey)
“The dead were legion, and remembrance was a kind of duty…not always related to love.”

This is Atkinson’s companion piece (her words) to Life After Life, the story of the privileged Todd family in Fox Corner, in England, with WW II as the highlight of events. A GOD IN RUINS could be read without having read the previous novel, but it has so much more meaning if you read them both. This is a tour de force, and after having closed the last page in tears, and meditated on this astounding book, perha
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kate Atkinson kills me again. I'd write a review if I wasn't so bitter & broken-hearted that I'm not still immersed in Teddy's world.

(But review-ish: this is just barely not quite the soul-crusher that Life After Life was just because Viola exists in the book & she's so utterly awful & self-absorbed & goddammit just totally awful that every time she came up on the page I got yoinked right out of the story with extreme annoyance. And I liked reading about Bertie from everyone else's perspective,
Connie G
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A God in Ruins is a companion novel to Life After Life, the story of Ursula Todd who expired and was reborn multiple times during the first half of the 20th Century. Her brother Teddy was a RAF pilot during World War II who was shot down and missing in action. In A God in Ruins we learn that he had been in a German POW camp for two years before returning to England.

The book is written with a constant shifting back and forth in time. The story starts slowly with incidents about Teddy's childhood
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Who loved this book (or otherwise) 2 7 Aug 04, 2020 09:26AM  
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Goodreads Choice ...: A God in Ruins - June 2016 10 63 Jun 29, 2016 09:15AM  

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Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,

Other books in the series

Todd Family (2 books)
  • Life After Life (Todd Family, #1)

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