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A God in Ruins

Narrated by: Alex Jennings
Length: 16 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (995 ratings)
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Editor reviews

A mesmerizing and deeply moving companion book to the 2014 number one best-selling Life After Life, Kate Atkinson brings an enchanting tale with her latest release A God in Ruins, narrated by the captivating Alex Jennings. This extraordinary literary fiction audiobook, full and unabridged, will have you entirely immersed in the beautifully constructed story. Teddy has the chance to re-live his life over and over again. What he chooses to do with this gift is simply incredible. This book will move you, stun you and ultimately change you. Available now from Audible.

Summary

Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life, one of the top-selling adult books of 2014, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother, Teddy - would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband, and father - 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.

A God in Ruins is a masterful companion to Life After Life and will prove once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

©2015 Random House (P)2015 Random House

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Moving and memorable

It took me awhile to get into this book as the first few chapters dot about among different characters whom I needed to get to know or be reacquainted with those who figured in the author’s previous book Life after Life, but soon I was utterly riveted by this powerful and memorable novel. I was drawn into the lives of the main characters as the narrative time-travelled back and forth over the 20th century and into the 21st. Much time is spent with the bomber pilots during the second world war: their heroism is well-known but the book really brought home to me the horrors they endured. These are emotionally draining scenes which are, thankfully, counterpointed by some lighter scenes.

There is a long epilogue to the book in which the author explains her approach to the novel and how it dovetails with Life after Life. I think it would have been helpful to have this at the beginning of the recording.

Kate Atkinson is a fine, imaginative writer and has has maintained her high standards in this book.

Alex Jennings is one of my favourite narrators and has done a wonderful job of bringing this book to life.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

I don't want to try to describe this book because I won't do it justice, but I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • T
  • 10-05-15

Remarkable Companion to "Life After Life"

This is a companion novel to the wonderful Life After Life, this time following the long life of Ursula’s brother Teddy. Where Ursula’s life (or lives?) was moulded by the Blitz, Teddy’s is by his time as a Halifax pilot through the Strategic Bombing campaign. The two novels share characters but can be enjoyed separately – and I loved both. The Kate Atkinson with and humour is there, though perhaps even darker than usual and particularly with the repellent Viola. But even this character won some sympathy from me because of the richness of Atkinson’s writing. Death appears in many guises, often with the random violence of war and some sequences reminded me of the intensity of Len Deighton’s “Bomber,” though Atkinson cites other sources helping her with her vivid portraits of the terrors of air warfare. The narration is good and the book itself so good that I will look forward to a second listen before too long.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Even Better than Life After Life

Kate Atkinson just gets better and better!

I've enjoyed all her books but in 'Life After Life' and 'A God in Ruins' she has reached a different level. Teddy's extraordinary wartime experiences in Bomber Command contrast so effectively with the everyday detail of his relationships with his wife, his awful daughter Viola, his grandchildren, his mother and also, of course, Ursula.

I was blown away by the ending and now, weeks after listening to it read so well by Alex Jennings, it is still in my mind. I don't often read or listen to books more than once but this book will be an exception! Do read 'Life after Life' first though.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Even better than Life After Life

What did you like most about A God in Ruins?

This is such a multi layered book. The characters, the narrative, the moral underpinning and above all the sense of a 'lived life'. It really gave me the feeling of what the generation that fought WW2 experienced and how it changed them. The following two generations of the family are also shown as products of the age, as well as their personal and family experiences.

What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Alex Jennings is an excellent narrator - in particular I felt he captured the voice of Ted

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me feel sad for 'the god in ruins'. It also made me think - which is equally important.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Flipping Brilliant

Loved it and it's predecessor - I don't think a book as ever moved me to tears before - the epilogue of this one did . Read both of them - life after life and this.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Prepare to laugh, cry and groan.

This novel is making me guffaw, sigh, snort, in other words, it is making me feel for the characters and react strongly to the story. That, for me is one of the signs of a good novel.The depiction of some of the events in the second world war were horrific, even though I had read of them before. The words, "Thousand Bomber Raid, " "Firestorm," and "Carpet Bombing" sound almost heroic and so it is good to be reminded of what these terms meant for the aircrew and people on the ground when these attacks took place.

I love Teddy and loath Viola. I am only half way through but I cannot imagine there will be anything that happens to Viola that will redeem her before the end, although I am prepared to be unprepared, as Kate Atkinson is good at adding twists to the plot.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • W
  • United Kingdom
  • 15-06-15

A bit of a rambler

The way Kate Atkinson builds up characters in this book is incredibly good, you get a real sense of who everyone is and why. I enjoyed various scenes throughout as well as links to characters and events in the companion book, Life After Life. However, I lamented the lack of any coherent plot - I love a good plot, unashamedly. I kept listening not so much for what happened next, but to see if anything happened at all.

Although there's an underlying linear progression in the telling of Teddy's life, you can start off at a particular date in a chapter and without warning, you're twenty, thirty or five years in the past or at some future point, never quite sure when conversations are really taking place. It's discombobulating and had I been reading the book on paper, I probably would have given up.

I'm sure that there are many readers/listeners who are more concerned with the human condition in literature than with plot who would enjoy this more than I did. There's nothing 'wrong' with this book, it just isn't for me.

I can't fault Alex Jennings' narration - excellent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Profoundly Moving

Having read Life After Life and thoroughly enjoyed it, felt this was an obvious must read. The author describes it as a 'companion novel' rather than a sequel.
This is brilliant writing, as ever, from Kate Atkinson.

I'm not old enough to have experienced the Second World War but feel I have been taken there through the memories of the experiences of these vivid characters. I lost count of the times this made me cry. The strength of feeling this novel provoked cannot be conveyed in words.

Meticulously researched, Kate says she based many of the stories on true events. I learned such a lot and my existing respect for ALL who were involved in World Wars has deepened.

This made me think about life and death, the fragility and transience of life and of the relationships we hold dear.

I highly recommend this but prepare yourself for a roller coaster ride of the emotions.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.

What did you like most about A God in Ruins?

The author describes this as a companion piece to her previous opus "Life after Life"; it is only loosely connected to that book and makes a perfectly good read on its own. The central theme concerns War through the eyes of the main character Teddy, (a bomber pilot in World War 2), and man's fall from grace. The author paints in the characters' thoughts and memories by degree, skipping forward and backward in time in a manner some might find irritating but which rings true in my mind as a representation of the patchwork of memory and experience. There is no linear narrative. Thoroughly enjoyable.

What about Alex Jennings’s performance did you like?

Alex Jennings conveys the each character with subtle modulations changing with the individuals age so the listener feels secure in knowing who he is with. His voice conveys the reflective nature of the text and adds

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Tiffany
  • 30-08-15

I wasn't expecting that!

I liked the depth with which characters were drawn and explored. I also found the insights in to the bombing raids, to be fascinating. The story travelled between time frames seamlessly. The twist at the end took my breath away; it had me almost crying...
The voice of the narrator was very enjoyable and his mastery of accents is wonderful. However his actual narration, aside from dialogue, was a bit monotonous at times.

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  • Annette Larke
  • 07-07-15

Fabulous

Just loved it - and enjoy re-reading it. Good story - Rich and interesting characters. Must re-read Life after Life which I read some time ago.

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  • Rosemary
  • 15-06-15

Kate Atkinson is my favourite author

Would you listen to A God In Ruins again? Why?

I think next time I will read it and not listen to it. When I read "Life after life" (to which "A God in ruins" is a squel) I sometimes had to revert to previous chapters to recapture previous events as the story is somewhat confusing in that it jumps backwards to events and then forwards in time with different characters. I found this difficult to do when "listening" as I could not "turn back pages" to previous chapters - if that makes sense!

Any additional comments?

I think one should read "Life after Life" before listening to "A God in ruins" as this will furnish the reader/listener with a background of the characters whose lives, in the latter, often reflect on events and characters in the former.