A God In Ruins

My wife gave me this book after we inadvertently used it to teach Destroyer to swear on a car journey. It’s the story of Teddy Todd, an RAF airman in the second world War, flying bombers to raid Germany. But perhaps really its an achingly sad, beautifully written meditation on death, kindness, and failed hope.

I read most of it in the last 24 hours, and for most of the last half I was weeping I read it in bed, tears rolling down my face. I took it to read while my girls watched a soccer class, and I wept. And I read the last 30 pages on the way back from dropping off a rental car, and I sobbed all the way, fat tears rolling down my face. The last book that made me cry, I think, was a biography of Zatopek, the marathon runner, and I was weeping in a bedroom in a house in Seattle just a few streets from here. Maybe it’s the area.

A God In Ruins is complex – the timeline jumps back and forth, in the space of a few paragraphs, over 80 years. There’s wonderful repetition as different people say the same thing in different contexts, echoes across the world. There’s a somewhat cruel twist that yanks the rug from under you in the last pages, but the whole book is written so well I can’t begrudge it.

I also don’t feel I have the emotional ability to write more about this book at this point. Perhaps I’ll come back to this. Otherwise, if you need a good cry, this could be the book for you.


One response to “A God In Ruins”

  1. I felt that way about Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Atkinson’s first book, but not about any of them since. Maybe there’s something a bit otherly about her writing that really shocks you into that sort of reaction the first time you come across it.

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