April 21

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

If there was an award handed out to someone taking the longest time to finish a book,  I’d win it hands-down. I have been beavering away at this one for m.o.n.t.hs!

Poor Ms A has been galloping through her books while I could only reply to her inquisitive emails about my progress with ‘nope, still going’.  I don’t know who’ll be more relieved when this post goes live?  Me or her.

Rarely does this happen to me  and I blamed everything apart from the obvious.  Wondering if my problem was that I was going to bed too late to read, I started going earlier,  ridiculously so – the sun, may or may not have still be in the sky early.  I then started to seriously worry the pages were laced with ether as four pages in I’d be konked out, fast asleep.  So, a side tip to all you insomniacs out there, grab this.

But after a while, I came to the horrible realisation that this book,  to me, was as dull as dishwater.  I’m pretty much alone with this sentiment because A God in Ruins is on every bestseller list around the world.

You may know I reviewed Kate Atkinson’s previous bestseller Life After Life  and you may remember that while I liked it, it nearly drove me to drink. Her latest is not a sequel to that book but  a ‘companion’ as this tale is about Teddy, Ursula’s younger brother, who we believed in Life After Life died in the war.  His rise from the dead forms the central theme in this book which is ‘what to do with a life you did not expect to have?’

An interesting question for sure.  Atkinson writes about Teddy’s life in the war and his new life in the 2oth century as a father, husband and grandfather – we jump between the decades – back and forth.   There is nothing to dislike about Teddy.  He is SO likeable.  Compared to this is his daughter Viola, who is SO NOT. Teddy loses his wife Nancy while Viola is young and a big part of the story focuses on the relationship between the lovely father and horrid daughter which creates a sense of mystery ‘how can these two people be so different?’  By the time it’s sort of explained, I was way too bored to give a damn.

I know I sound harsh and I also don’t want to diminish some of the writing by Atkinson.  It really is evocative and beautiful and she clearly researched the hell out of the story (I just wish she didn’t feel the need to include it all!)

Perhaps you are one of those people who adored A God in Ruins and if so,  I salute you.  It’s just that after finishing this book, the only thing I think is in ruins, is me ….

But that is just my two cents worth.