Saturday, August 22, 2015
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
I loved this book. It is linked to the author's previous book, Life After Life, where the main character, Ursula, has many lives. Meaning she has a series of unfortunately events and occasional choices that lead to her demise, and yet she comes back to do it all over again. This book is about her younger brother Teddy and his life. Which does not go exactly as hers did but he does not get second chances.
Teddy is a steady, if somewhat lonely boy who grows up into the man that you would expect. Any hint of passion he might have harbored has been squeezed out of him by WWII, where he participated in numerous bombing missions over Europe and ended up in a POW camp. There is a good portion of the book that reflects on that experience and the emotional consequences for both the soldier and their extended family. Teddy never has much more than a friendship with his wife, and he can't connect at all with his daughter, Viola. She grows up to be a selfish and fragile woman who very poorly parents her own children, abandoning them at a young age and feeling sorry for herself that no one is pampering her. At least part of that is related to her own parenting, and her children barely emerge with a capacity for intimacy, almost all of it coming from Teddy's attempts to make it right for his grandchildren. A thoughtful, insightful, and well written book. Do not miss this one.