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  • Published: 30 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780552776646
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $22.99

A God in Ruins



'Atkinson's finest work, and confirmation that her genre-defying writing continues to surprise and dazzle' Observer

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. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

'A dazzling read...ends on one of the most devastating twists in recent fiction' DAILY TELEGRAPH

  • Published: 30 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780552776646
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. She won the Costa Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her three critically lauded and prizewinning novels set around World War II are Life After Life, A God in Ruins (both winners of the Costa Novel Award), and Transcription. She was appointed MBE for services to literature in 2011.

Her bestselling literary crime novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog became a BBC television series starring Jason Isaacs. Jackson Brodie returns in her new novel Big Sky.

Also by Kate Atkinson

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Praise for A God in Ruins

Horribly funny...every page has some vividly original phrase...But the tour de force is her treatment of Teddy’s 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...nailbiting...a really affecting memorial to the huge numbers of bomber crew who died.


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

A riveting exploration of the complexities of family life


Kate Atkinson's understanding of how we work is off the scale

Sainsbury's Magazine

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

Subtly fine new novel…Ms Atkinson’s artistry…is marvellously delicate and varied…devastating.

New York Times

Kate Atkinson just keeps getting better…A God in Ruins is a stunner…I laughed out loud…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

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.


An amazing accomplishment, a breathtaking literary sleight of hand but, unlike chilly experimental novels, this one is brimful of heartbreaking 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

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

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

Sunday Times

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

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, NPR

Magnificent...In A God in Ruins, she's written not only a companion to her earlier book, but 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

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

Daily Express

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...especially impressive.

Tom Perotta, New York Times Book Review

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

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...this is 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 surpise 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 everday 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...it adds a further level of overwhelming poignancy to an already extraordinarily affecting book.

James Walton, Daily Telegraph

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

Woman and Home

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

Irish Independent

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


A masterpiece of storytelling and a master class in how fiction works. It's also incredibly, surprisingly funny. It's my current death row book. If I was only allowed one last read,this would be it.

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

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A God In Ruins book club notes

Reading group discussion notes for A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.