A God in Ruins

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.

Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

‘Better than most fiction you’ll read this year’ – The Times

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Beautifully wrought, deeply felt.

LA 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

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 even better than Life After Life.


Tender, moving, caustic, and, at times, brilliantly funny. A God in Ruins is billed as a companion to Life After Life. Really, though, it stands alone in achievement. It’s fiction at its best.

New York Daily News

A complex and realistic exploration of how conflict changes humanity[Teddy] is the God in Ruins. He is the everyman in ruins, his lifes potential cut short not by death, like Ursulas, but by experience and the horrors of war.


As beguilingly written as anything coming from the hand of Atkinson.


Nothing short of a masterpiece. Elegantly structured and beautifully told…Characteristically perceptive and poignant, like its predecessor it also gives a vivid and often thrilling account of life during the second world war.

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

Offers us one of arts great consolations: the tremendous beauty of her carefully chosen words.

Sydney Morning Herald

True to form, this novel also has the most spectacular and heart-wrenching twist in its ending[which] falls like a guillotine, a novelist exercising her ferocious powers. A God in Ruins requires us to think about our relationship with fictional characters as searchingly as Life After Life did, in an exceptional fusion of high design and riveting, humane characterisation.

Literary Review

Powerful. There are glimpses of Sebastian Faulks Birdsong and Ian McEwans Atonement. But most poignantly, this is a sweeping, all-consuming novel that finds its way into your bloodstream and writes off your Sunday afternoon.


A novel for people who love novels.


An engrossing read by any standards. One that kept me up late at night to discover what would happen next.

Irish Independent

Atkinson is really quite brilliant at the tragi-comic…If Life After Life was all about do-overs, A God in Ruins presents the opposite, consistently reminding us of the limitations of one life and one life only.

Daily Beast

A riveting exploration of the complexities of family life.


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 only get one.

Time magazine

Atkinson follows up her Costa Award-winning Life After Life with a dazzling novel about the genteel Todd family The narrative is less slippery, but no less compelling.


If you were blown away by Life After Life, you’ll be dazzled by this companion piece an extraordinary tour de force.

Woman & Home

Atkinsons novel does indeed deserve to be taken seriously because it interrogates as the best war novels do what happens when the fighting stops.

Times Literary Supplement

A sprawling, unapologetically ambitious saga that tells the story of post-war Britain through the microcosm of a single family, and you remember what a big, old-school novel can do…especially impressive.

New York Times Book Review

Magnificent…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’ The Yellow Birds and Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Washington Post

As ever, Kate Atkinson is adept at ferreting her way into the minds of unlovely characters until you feel you know and understand them…While this is a tale of a life spared, the tone is one of elegy.

Daily Mail

The tender exploration of themes of family, love and loss contribute to the impact of this story that, like Life After Life, is beautifully written, stunningly constructed, and will linger long in the memory. Superb.

Sunday Mirror

Kate Atkinson just keeps getting better. A God in Ruins is a stunner. I laughed out loud at this bleak and beautiful book. 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.

Chicago Tribune

Heartbreaking…an ambitious, sensitive and beautifully written novel by one of our most gifted storytellers.

Daily Express

This book is particularly lovely and melancholy…one of those writers that really can make you weep on one page and laugh on the next… She just has such a vast humanity for her characters.

Gillian Flynn

Subtly fine Ms Atkinsons artistry is marvellously delicate and varied. Devastating.

New York Times

Engrossing…convincing and moving…I doubt that Atkinson’s readers will be disappointed.

Sunday Times

Atkinson pursues her own games with time, with an understated gracefulness that endows these pages with an assured, easeful sweep. In turn, we spend less time marvelling at Atkinson’s bold formal accomplishment and more on what’s happening to Teddy and others…bleakly funny…with her excellent new book, Atkinson reveals just how admirable such an ordinary man’s life can be.

Financial Times

Hugely impressive and immensely moving…Atkinson portrays intricate family conflict, the horrors of war and the terrors of illness with a candour coloured by kindness…Atkinson’s descriptions of the life of a pilot in Bomber Command are harrowing, edge-of-the-seat stuff. Yet there is plenty of the sharply observed humour that makes Atkinson’s work a treat…The twist, when it comes, is well earned and revelatory. “The bottom line is that it’s fiction,” Atkinson reminds us after the novel ends. Fiction of the very best kind.

Erica Wagner, New Statesman

An amazing accomplishment, a breath taking literary sleight of hand but, unlike chilly experimental novels, this one is brim-full of heart-breaking emotion and with characters that mean the world. This is an unmissable book.

Sunday Express

Better than most fiction you’ll read this year…Atkinson’s prose is as bright as gunfire in the Second World War sections…I can’t think of any writer to match her ability to grasp a period in the past. No, not even you, Booker-winning Hilary Mantel.

The Times

Horribly funny…every page has some vividly original phrase…But the tour de force is her treatment of Teddys experience as a bomber pilot, recreated as memorably as the Blitz scenes in Life After Life… nothing can quite account for the imaginative leaps she has made…a really affecting memorial to the huge numbers of bomber crew who died.

Evening Standard

With A God in Ruins she, once again, proves herself to be a writer of considerable talent. Her command of structure is extraordinary…She writes with terrific compassion for her characters…also shows off a brilliantly brittle sense of humour that on several occasions made me laugh out loud…to my mind, A God in Ruins stands as an equally magnificent achievement.

Matt Cain, Independent on Sunday

This is a novel about war and the shadow it casts even over generations who have never known it, but it is also a novel about fiction… a novel that cares deeply about its characters and about the purpose of fiction in making sense of our collective past. A God in Ruins, together with its predecessor, is Atkinson’s finest work, and confirmation that her genre-defying writing continues to surprise and dazzle.

Stephanie Merritt, Observer

Triumphant…such a dazzling read…Atkinson gives Teddy’s wartime experiences the full treatment in a series of thrilling set pieces. Even more impressive, though, is her ability to invest the more everyday events with a similar grandeur…almost as innovative as Atkinson’s technique in Life After Life – a possibly more authentic as an expression of how it feels to be alive…it ends on one of the most devastating twists in recent fiction…[which] adds a further level of overwhelming poignancy to an already extraordinarily affecting book.

James Walton, Daily Telegraph

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