A God in Ruins

I’m a bit of a sucker for World War II set books and I read, and really enjoyed, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, so when I saw another book that was related to that one, I knew I had to read it. A God in Ruins is about the brother of the main character in Life After Life, and the story goes back and forth in time sharing his life experiences with you, but also those of his family.

Teddy works in a bank, then he becomes a bomber pilot during the war, and then he marries, has a child, and well, I won’t say too much more because then you wouldn’t need to bother to read it. But Atkinson has a way with showing you all the points of view of the characters that I really enjoy. And Teddy is a wonderful character, so much going on with him and the window into his thoughts is very well done.

In particular, the way Ted describes the world, sees the world, and grows quite cynical of it during and after the war was something I could relate to. In our current world I’ve grown more and more cynical by the day and it probably isn’t good for me or those around me. But it’s hard to see how we get to the after of a world where the rich get richer and everyone else struggles along. It’s hard to see how we get to the after of tech companies bringing hate, harassment, and death into the world under the guise of connecting us all. It’s hard to see how we get to the after of the climate getting warmer and warmer bringing more and more catastrophes. In short, it’s hard to see how we get to the after of most things right now. And Ted, he has a hard time seeing or thinking of the after while the war is going on and then of speaking about the war after it’s over.

I needed a book like this in many ways, a book to get lost in the characters and to get lost in a story a bit, but also when I put it down to get on with life, to be reminded of how I can get to the after of the current world.

The whole edifice of civilization turned out to be constructed from an unstable mix of quicksand and imagination. (loc 1553)

It seemed to Teddy that to plant an oak was an act of faith in the future. (loc 3750)

The dog had been dead for over forty years but he still felt a little stab of sadness to the heart when he thought of its absence from the world. (loc 4098)