A God in Ruins

A Novel
By Kate Atkinson (Hardcover Book, 2015)
The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller Life After Life, "one of the best novels I've read this century" (Gillian Flynn).

"He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future."


Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again.

A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man's path through extraordinary times, A GOD IN RUINS proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

The stunning companion to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller Life After Life, "one of the best novels I've read this century" (Gillian Flynn).

"He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future."


Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again.

A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man's path through extraordinary times, A GOD IN RUINS proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named England's Whitbread Book of the Year in 1996. Since then, she has written eight more ground-breaking, bestselling books, most recently Life After Life. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • PRAISE FOR A GOD IN RUINS:

    "Atkinson isn't just telling a story: she's deconstructing, taking apart the notion of how we believe stories are told. Using narrative tricks that range from the subtlest sleight of hand to direct address, she makes us feel the power of storytelling not as an intellectual conceit, but as a punch in the gut." (Publishers Weekly ).

  • "A grown-up, elegant fairy tale...a humane vision of people in all their complicated splendor." (Kirkus ).

  • "She also continues to write, as she did in Life after Life, about the savagery of war in clarion prose that is graphic in detail and possessed of a singular melancholy. And whether it is the stoic Teddy, his practical wife, his unbelievably selfish daughter, or his neglected grandchildren, every one of Atkinson's characters will, at one moment or another, break readers' hearts." (Booklist ).

  • "A novel so sublime I would nominate it to represent all books in the Art Olympics. The afterword deserves a literary prize all to itself. It is, as claimed on the sumptuous proof, even better than Life After Life." (The Bookseller ).

  • "Only as the book unfolds is each character more fully revealed. Ms. Atkinson's artistry in making this happen is marvelously delicate and varied."  (New York Times ).

  • "If you loved Atkinson's Life After Life, you're in luck. If you're one of the, say, five people who didn't read it: You're still in luck--Atkinson is a master at the top of her game. A quiet, moving portrait of a guy navigating life's small pleasures and painful failures." (Marie Claire ).

  • "Gorgeous, thought-provoking...once again, Atkinson explores the concept of paths not taken versus those that are. Her hero's journey has its trials...but also joys and deep love. Quiet, humble Teddy is easy to root for. At the end of this tender story (a weeper, by the way), you won't want to let him go." (Good Housekeeping ).

  • "Studded with poetry and song, Atkinson's combination of wartime and family drama evokes a lost era, while also showing how World War II helped bring that time to a close. Teddy witnesses the breakdown of class prejudice through camaraderie, the slide from prudishness to promiscuity, and the destruction of the flower-filled meadows he knew in his youth to make way for crops to feed a hungry country. Simultaneously, Atkinson illustrates the difficult transition from wartime to peacetime." (Shelf Awareness ).

  • A "dazzling novel." (People ).

  • A "rich and enthralling read...Atkinson does a skillful job of interweaving history and fiction. Even more impressively, she combines a brilliantly rendered traditional narrative and warmly believable characters with a postmodern sense of the nature of fiction, the story aware of itself as story." (The Tampa Bay Times ).

  • "A sprawling, unapologetically ambitious saga that tells the story of postwar Britain through the microcosm of a single family, and you remember what a big, old-school novel can do." (New York Times Book Review ).

  • "Atkinson's genre-bending novels have garnered critical praise, but nothing on the order of a Rushdie, or even an Ian McEwan. A God in Ruins should change that." (The Chicago Tribune ).

  • "Atkinson writes the way LeBron dunks or Stephen Hawking theorizes; she can't help but be brilliant."
    (Entertainment Weekly ).

  • "Transcendent."  (The Seattle Times ).

  • "a staggeringly gorgeous book, offering through the story of one small, good, imperfect life, the chance to grieve and cherish so many more." (Boston Globe ).

  • "random, miraculous, and frightening" (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ).

  • "Ms. Atkinson rises beautifully to the challenge of dramatizing the raids, capturing the virtually suicidal nature of these operations in muscular, unsentimental prose." (The Wall Street Journal ).

  • "beautifully wrought, deeply felt scenes" (The Los Angeles Times ).

  • "Reading A GOD IN RUINS feels like encountering a series of perfect scenes from the past half century, jumbled up and spiced with wit and drama. By the end, the point the novel makes through its shuffled deck structure becomes clear, and it's a moving one." (The Dallas Morning News ).

  • "I've mostly recovered from the shock of it, but I advise you to never play poker with Atkinson for real money." (The Sunday Journal Sentinel ).

  • "There is a bit of trickery here, as it turns out, as philosophical as it is novelistic, but the book's pleasures--and it's accomplishments--are ultimately more remarkable that the twist the story finally takes." (The Minneapolis Star Tribune ).

  • "Kate Atkinson's intelligence and understanding of humanity informs every page...The reader will at times need to rest the book for a few moments to recover before plunging ahead. It might help, too, to have a box of tissues handy." (New York Journal of Books ).

  • "A novel that takes its place in the line of powerful works about young men and war, stretching from Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage to Kevin Powers's The Yellow Birds and Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk." (The Washington Post ).

  • "A sprawling, epic novel...A God in Ruins expresses the ways lives can be seen close up, in seemingly unconnected individual moments, or from a distance, as a series of through-lines." (NPR.org ).

  • "...more subtly postmodern, shifting between past, present, and future in ways both subversive and perfectly organic." (New York Magazine ).

  • "As finely crafted as Life After Life...Having spun one great novel out of second, third and 50th chances, she's spun another out of the fact that in reality, we get only one." (Time  ).

  • "Atkinson's strong and evocative turn of phrase, which is both beautiful and strangely conversational, pull readers in, with solid plotting and deep affection for her characters keeping them reading...Teddy Todd survived the war and then he died and, in between, he lived, and every moment is wonderful, even if it was never meant to be." (Bustle ).

  • "A God in Ruins bills itself as a companion piece to Life After Life, rather than a sequel. In trying this, Atkinson joins some of the most innovative and impressive authors on both sides of the pond, including Hilary Mantel, Marilynne Robinson, and Jane Smiley, who are busy constructing high-brow trilogies and ambitious spinoffs of their own. Atkinson more than lives up to the challenge and proves herself worthy of her company." (BarnesandNoble.com ).

  • "A God in Ruins is billed as a companion book to Life After Life. Really though, it stands alone in achievement. It's fiction at it's best." (The New York Daily News ).

  • "A brilliant follow-up." (Slate ).

  • "Masterful." (Bookreporter ).

  • "Atkinson is a master of structure." (The Columbus Dispatch).

  • "This is that age-old story--man's fall from grace, and his endless struggle to regain it--made wonderfully, achingly new." (The Cleveland Plain Dealer).

  • "A hugely impressive and immensely moving novel. Somehow it feels effortless, although clearly that is not the case...Fiction of the very best kind."
    (New Statesman
    ).

  • "A novel for people who love novels." (Newsday ).

  • "Ms. Atkinson's thrumming imagination runs on premium prose, a perfect vehicle for conveying characters to new futures." (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

  • "A God in Ruins is Kate Atkinson's brilliant follow-up to Life After Life...This time, Atkinson has written what looks like a big, old-fashioned book, with just enough high-concept risks to make readers start riffling back through the pages as soon as they've done...readers...are never quite in the same condition when they finish a book. When it comes to a novel like A God in Ruins, that change will always be for the better."
    (The Christian Science Monitor
    ).

  • "A God in Ruins is another triumph for Kate Atkinson...A God in Ruins has a compelling narrative, a myriad of unforgettable scenes, and a bit of the old Atkinson playful craftiness at the very end, a mischievous Ian McEwan-like investigation into the curious ways of fiction writers. Altogether dazzling, A God in Ruins is my pick for the best (so far) novel of 2015."
    (Fab Over Fifty
    ).

  • "Magnificent...Atkinson fluidly executes these chronological loop-de-loops, leaving a reader to marvel at that most banal of epiphanies--how fast life goes by."
    (NPR's "Fresh Air"
    ).

  • "This follow up [to Life After Life] tracks Ursula's brother, Teddy, a favorite son who flies an RAF bomber during the Second World War and remains kind, thoughtful, and patient through a life of quiet sadness...Teddy, unlike his sister, lives only one life, but Atkinson's deft handling of time, as she jumps from boyhood to old age and back, is impressive." (The New Yorker ).

  • "will leave you turning back the pages, wanting to live it again, mixing up past and present in a delightful bold manner."
    (The Sunday Oregonian
    ).

  • "Nothing short of a masterpiece. Elegantly structured and beautifully told, it recounts the story of Teddy Todd, the brother of the protagonist of Atkinson's 2013 novel, Life After Life, in his attempt to live a 'good, quiet life' in the 20th century. Characteristically perceptive and poignant, like its predecessor it also gives a vivid and often thrilling account of life during the second world war--seen this time from the air rather than the streets of London."
    (Author of The Girl on the Train
    ).

  • PRAISE FOR LIFE AFTER LIFE:

    "Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe LIFE AFTER LIFE: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: It's one of the best novels I've read this century." (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl).

  • "Kate Atkinson's new novel is a box of delights. Ingenious in construction, indefatigably entertaining, it grips the reader's imagination on the first page and never lets go. If you wish to be moved and astonished, read it. And if you want to give a dazzling present, buy it for your friends." (Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies).

  • "An exercise in narrative gutsiness; a meditation on history, contingency, and free will; and the best new novel I've read this year." (Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine).

  • "Audacious, the kind of sweeping virtuoso epic that actually earns overheated book-jacket phrases like 'tour de force!'...What Atkinson has mastered: shining a light on how full life is of choices and chance, and how lucky we are to live it." (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly).

  • "Kate Atkinson's very best...Exceptionally captivating." (Janet Maslin, New York Times).

  • A deft and convincing portrayal of an English family's evolution across two world wars...Marvelous...Not only does she bring characters to life with enviable ease, she has an almost offhand knack for vivid scene-setting ...spellbindingly done." (Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal).

  • "Life After Life is a hypnotic dance of causality and chance, in which Ursula makes genuine progress... Atkinson makes every one of Ursula's lives, as well as the lives of those she touches, feel inestimably precious." (Laura Miller, Salon).

  • "Masterful...Atkinson not only invites readers in, she also asks them to give up their preconceptions of what a novel should be, and instead accept what a novel can be... remarkably like life." (Meg Wolitzer, NPR.org).

  • Audacious, ambitious...Funny and quirky and sharp and sad -- calamity laced with humor." (Sarah Lyall, New York Times Magazine).

Product Details

A God in Ruins
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $28.00 US
  • Pages: 480
  • Physical Dimensions: 6" x 9-1/4"
  • ISBN-13: 9780316176538
  • On Sale Date: 05/05/2015
A God in Ruins