February 2015


Rustication by Charles Palliser – 3

A mostly disappointing read. Uses language that is clearly designed to shock, but simply jars for the period of the story. The plot is not as mysterious or tense as it appears to think it is, and seems to suffer from a quite heavy-handed manipulation of characters in order to force a ‘logical’ sequence of events.  The characters are neither clever nor likeable.  It’s a couple of months since I read this book, but this hasn’t done my opinion of it any favours.  Although I haven’t read Palliser’s Quincunx I have only heard good things.  I probably should have read that one, instead…

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – 4

Revisiting characters from my favourite novel of last year, Life After Life, this is a ‘companion’ rather than a sequel.  Following on from Teddy’s role as a pilot in the war (one of Ursula’s brothers), it spans his life, and those of his wife, dysfunctional daughter and long-suffering grandchildren.

Fantastic, fully rounded, and (in some cases unhappily) believable characters, this is a wonderful and far-reaching story of the ties that bind and the repercussions of decisions long after they are made.  This is not another episode of Life After Life, with events relived over and over, but Atkinson does save a twist of perspective for the final pages.  Although I don’t think it hit quite the same peak as LAL, I liked it a lot.  I thought about it for days afterwards, and am certain I will re-read (and continue to make discoveries) in the future.

I won’t be surprised if another ‘companion’ novel does not appear at some point, as I felt there were some things left noticeably unsaid about some of the peripheral characters (eg Sylvie, Maurice).  While A God in Ruins was complete in itself, there are so many strong characters, it feels like there is a lot of story still to tell…



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