…Kate Atkinson’s “A God in Ruins.” The jacket blurbs say Atkinson is a “fantastic storyteller” who tests our “preconceptions of what a novel can be.” She has “a remarkable ability” to structure “narrative fragments (so) that they cohere into a breathtaking whole.” She “writes like an angel (with a) sense of humor… (and) formidable intelligence.” All these comments are true. The book is that good or better.
“God” is a companion to Atkinson’s previous “The Guns At Last Light.” Many of the same characters appear, but it can be read for itself. In an afterword, Atkinson explains she wanted to write a World War II novel and decided to focus on the British bombing campaign against Germany. The average age of a British flight crew member was 22, and of those who began the war, only 10% survived it. This campaign killed several hundred thousand German civilians, “the old, the young, women — that civilization is supposed to defend.”
There is a lot of death in this book — and a portion of love.