Reading A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson is akin to being on a roller coaster except that the highs are peaks of danger, despair and hope (particularly in the cockpit) and the lows are sunk in the sludge of human struggle and misunderstanding. There are many highs (symbolised by the flights of the war planes, Halifaxes and Lancasters and birds, Song Larks) and lows are symbolised by the key characters of Teddy, his daughter Viola, and grandson, Sunny all who trudge blindly through the earthly kingdom of family and misunderstanding.
For me the book is a master of contradiction reflecting the contradiction in terms that life is: for example the heroics of the English speaking pilots when they bomb the German civilians in Nuremberg.
Poor miserable Viola (I keep writing Voila instead…There! in French). Viola is saddled with unadulterated anxst, loneliness, and fear as a child and responds accordingly with self-righteousness, bullishness and grief (and greed). It’s a powerful novel combining acerbic wit (particularly when it comes to the English middle classes) and aesthetic prose.
“Flak, they understood, but this was something more primeval. Occasionally the lightning illuminated malevolent fissures and caverns within the dark mass. The turbulent air currents were random – bucking and bucketing them up or down or sideways…”
Poetry in motion! I also really liked Kate Atkinson’s device which enabled the narrator, author, God to make bracketed asides (usually amusing) which also showed her perspicacity – another sleight of hand in a novel about black and white and the inherent and inherited contradictory forces of life.
A good read.