A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson

If the previous, companion novel Life After Life is about, well, life... then A God In Ruins is about death. Melancholy pervades the many overlapping stories of four generations of the Todd family. Atkinson's command of structure allows us to move around in time to span almost a century of Teddy Todd's life; but we return again and again to WW2, to Teddy's role in Bomber Command, with the circular narrative (plus layer upon layer of imagery and motifs) delivering the same sense of inevitability as the central plot device of rebirth in Life After Life. Why? Why circle around one core experience of an unexceptional (for those swept into WW2) man's life? It's not simply a gimmicky plot device, surely? No, Atkinson has a point to make and saves it for the closing pages, when her writing is breath-taking (literally, I held my breath for about four pages) and beautiful and furious.