There’s some insomnia going on here at Casa Purgatory, and since it’s almost midnight I thought I would be productive and get Sunday’s blog post out of the way. It will be a short one, because I’ve only read 71 pages of A God in Ruins – which a friend recently told me was one of the best novels she had ever read. So far I am not quite so enthusiastic, though I am enjoying the novel well enough.
After reading Atkinson’s first novel, Human Croquet, a couple of weeks ago, I’m noticing the way her style and subject matter have evolved over the course of her career. Like Human Croquet, this novel concerns multiple generations of a not-very-wealthy, not-very-happy 20th-century English family. Some of the eccentricities of Human Croquet are mirrored here – the parallel between Aunt Vinny in Human Croquet and Aunt Izzie in A God in Ruins, for example. Both novels like to swirl around in time, ducking in and out of various decades as they see fit, and both are told from an omniscient point of view. A God in Ruins is the story of Teddy Todd, who was a pilot in World War II. So far, we’ve seen little of Teddy’s war years; instead, we see him as bewildered child and as bewildered parent and grandparent.
Another noteworthy quality of Human Croquet is that it became much, much more interesting as it progressed. I suspect that this may also be true of A God in Ruins. Kate Atkinson seems to me like the kind of writer who devotes much of each novel to painstakingly lining up her characters (and their accompanying backstory) like chess pieces, pretending not to have a care in the world, waiting for the moment when the reader will snap back from a daydream and discover that s/he has just been checkmated.
That’s what I predict will happen in A God in Ruins. We will see…