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A God in Ruins- anyone else disappointed (SPOILERS POSSIBLE)

(26 Posts)
homebythesea Mon 31-Aug-15 13:07:27

I feel so let down! I loved Life After Life, and eventually (after a slow start) started enjoying AGIR then "the twist" happened and i just thought what the feck was all that about??? Totally unecessary in my view, and completely spoiled it for me. Or did I just miss something about its significance? All a bit Emperors New Clothes if you ask me

BrendaandEddie Mon 31-Aug-15 13:10:38

I LOVED the twist

DuchessofMalfi Mon 31-Aug-15 13:12:48

No. I loved it, even more than Life After Life. The twist didn't upset me any more than Atonement - more a surprise. I like a novel that keeps me on my toes as it were!

southeastdweller Mon 31-Aug-15 13:25:23

Some of us talked about it earlier in the summer on this thread, if you're interested in reading:

homebythesea Mon 31-Aug-15 13:39:49

southeast thanks so much for linking to that other thread- couldn't put it better than some of the posters there. What I couldn't get my head round was whether the detailed story was Teddy imagining how his life might have turned out as he was plummeting to his death, in which case how in Earth coukd he know about things like the Jubilee pageant etc, or......well I just couldn't fathom it. Why not just end with his death ( of old age) up to that point it was a great character study, inter generational issues etc. so what do we gain by suddenly being to,d well actually none if this actually happened?

homebythesea Mon 31-Aug-15 13:40:49

I haven't read Atonement by the way. It's now totally spoiled grin

BaconAndAvocado Tue 01-Sep-15 17:20:22

I didn't even register the twist hmm

I love anything written by KA.

When's her next one coming out?

Lipsiensis Tue 01-Sep-15 17:28:52

Nope. Loved it.

DragonsToSlayAndWineToDrink Tue 01-Sep-15 17:33:22

Home I was horribly disappointed, and felt cheated! Assumed he has died early on, as chapter was called "Last Flight" (or similar), then was relieved to realise actually was in POW camp and lived long life etc....and then, and then!! I was troubled for a couple of days grin

BaconAndAvocado Tue 01-Sep-15 17:52:42

Teddy is one of my all time favourite fictional characters.

I remember crying through the sections about poor poor Sunny angry

homebythesea Tue 01-Sep-15 17:56:50

I just hope KA writes some more Brodie stories as I adore those- she is a brilliant character "painter"- the gimmicks aren't necessary (although I thought life after life was quite fabulous and you can't get a bigger gimmick than that!!)

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer Sat 24-Oct-15 18:57:28

I realise this is an old thread but just finished this. I both loved and hated the end. I loved Teddy. I was sad for him that 'his marriage' wasn't happier.

Saw Kate Atkinson at a literature festival and she said no more Brodick.

LatinForTelly Tue 27-Oct-15 11:40:29

I've just finished this too. As a poster on the other thread said, I found it almost unbearably poignant, even before the twist.

I'm not sure what I feel about the twist - whether it was a cheap trick, or a clever way to deepen the tragedy of a life not lived.

It reminded me of the Carol Ann Duffy poem (though wrong war) 'and all those thousands dead are shaking dried mud from their hair and queuing up for home. Freshly alive.'

The mumsnet reference was v funny. KA took us down a peg or two, didn't she?!

foxtrotyankee Sun 28-Feb-16 13:51:18

there was a twist?

alicemalice Sun 28-Feb-16 20:52:41

Ha, fox - I missed it too.

Mind you, I found the book so intensely dull I was skim reading towards the end.

Couldn't understand why people raved about this book

drigon Wed 02-Mar-16 01:47:27

Excellent book. The bits about the war/bombing raids were superb.

whatamidoinghereanyway Wed 02-Mar-16 18:11:05

I listened to this on audible and although it didn't grip me, I found it was so beautifully written that despite not much actually happening, I would listen or read again. Adored the prequel too, much more than the Brodie novels.

SatsukiKusakabe Thu 03-Mar-16 17:01:15

I wasn't sure about the twist, but then I actually thought it was in keeping with the ideas she was playing with about writing that she had set up in Life After Life so felt it it was fitting. She was doing something quite different to Atonement, but using a similar device ifyswim.

She is a great writer I think in the details, quick and funny so it makes anything of hers very enjoyable, and if would pick up anything by her. Overall I would say though that it was patchy, some sections better than others. The war stuff was dead on, fantastic, so was some of the family stuff, but ultimately unsatisfying. She is, however, a very playful writer who I think is not necessarily aiming to leave the reader 'satisfied'.

drigon Fri 04-Mar-16 23:31:48

I agree, she's a brilliant writer. Just got Life After Life as an(early!)Mothers day gift. It's not really gripping me at the start. Hope it improves.

HappyFlappy Sun 08-Jan-17 21:33:06

I know I'm resurrecting this thread (sorry), but I loved the twist at the end.

To me it said that one life lost is not just one life lost.

It is the children that person may have had.; the joys they could have brought to others' lives; the people who they would have touched and affected for good or ill, whose lives would now take different track.

Each of us is connected to everyone else (think of the "6 degrees of separation" thingy) and our every word and deed ripples across the world in the same way that a pebble thrown into a pond ripples across the water. And because of this, we should make sure that we say and do good, rather than evil, because we can't go back and undo.

KeithLeMonde Sun 08-Jan-17 21:44:20

Ha, Happy, I've just resurrected a different "God in Ruins" thread after finishing the book!

Here's what I said:

"Resurrecting this old thread as I've just finished the book and didn't really want to start yet another thread.

For me, the twist was just right. Having read LAL, I kept trying to place this version of Teddy's life into one of Ursula's stories, working out which of her many versions it fitted with (I think, from reading the author's post-script, the answer is none of them - it stands alone). It would have been strange to have Life After Life being the book that it is, and then the companion book being just a straightforward narrative with no trickery.

Kate Atkinson described these as "war stories", acknowledging that war stories don't just take place from 1939-1945 (or insert dates of chosen war), they spill out before and after because that is how life is. That's why I thought the "twist" was perfect for this book - it added much greater poignancy to the story. Was it the story of a young airman who lived, or one who died? What difference would that have made? What would life have been like for those who died so young, had they lived?

Really made me think.

I didn't really warm to Teddy. The book asks questions about the morality of war and I'm guessing it was a deliberate choice to make Teddy a quietly decent, fairly un-conflicted character. To me, he was rather priggish and annoying - always right, always understated, always tasteful. I much preferred Ursula's story in Life After Life because she was prickly and awkward and interesting. I didn't think Teddy was any of those things. I did find his story moving though, and I loved some of the other characters - Sunny in particular, and (unexpectedly) Viola."

HappyFlappy Sun 15-Jan-17 21:45:23


Sorry for late reply - have just seen thi.

It was a year ago I read the book, but i remember enjoying both the story and the end.

I loved little Sunny, and my heart ached for him, poor boy - especially when he had to live with his wealthy aristocratic GPs and they were so awful to him. And also I didn't much like Viola, but I did feel sorry for her - always fighting against something, but she didn't know what.

If I get the chance I'll re-read and give a more considered opinion. smile

I17neednumbers Thu 06-Apr-17 19:47:16

So, I have a question - but it involves revealing the 'spoiler'. So do not read on if you don't want to know it!

Would it be likely that Nancy could have survived the brain tumour in the 1960s if Teddy had died in 1943/4 and Nancy married the barrister instead? KA says it was discovered on a routine checkup when it was early enough to operate. I am sceptical as to whether brain surgery was evolved enough by then to have saved her even if it had been discovered earlier. But perhaps I am underestimating medical/surgical advances by then. Also - routine checkup - for what? More likely perhaps if the barrister had a doctor sister who recognised the symptoms and sent Nancy off to a specialist?.
Obviously I realise this is NOT the point of the book and I should not be focusing on this. But it was the first thing that struck me at the end!
I did think the descriptions of what it was like to go on a bombing raid were amazingly effective.

I17neednumbers Thu 06-Apr-17 22:12:46

bumping my question for the late night bookies

Noitsnotteatimeyet Fri 14-Apr-17 09:28:07

I've just read this and loved it - it's very close to home at the moment as my dad (who was in the navy during the war) has just moved into a nursing home. I thought Teddy was a brilliant character - I didn't see him as priggish, he was atoning for things he'd done by being kind. Nancy had asked him to kill her if she got too bad as she didn't want to stop being herself so when she lost it at the end he was in an impossible position - but yes it explained a lot about Viola's attitude towards him.

The twist seemed completely fitting especially when read as a companion to Life After Life. My dad was 17 when he joined the navy in 1943. He was sent for officer training purely on the grounds of his accent and minor public school background - he sounded like 'officer class' so that's what he was!

During training he shared a room with another teenager who was killed by shrapnel on his very first voyage - that could just have easily been my dad and that sense of random fragility has haunted him all his life. He's starting to get quite confused now but the three years he spent in the navy are indelibly etched on his memory, despite being demobbed when he was 20.

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