I loved ‘A God in Ruins’, so here comes a list of superlatives. Yet some people will surely feel this is a boring book, 468 slow-paced pages, which you need to read at an even slower pace to understand, to feel. Who likes such books anyway? It has over 50,000 ratings on GoodReads in 2021, and I’m joyed that so many readers still love such traditional literature.
It’s slow, but the emotional depth! The observations on life are so on point; stoicism, hardship, lust, the morality of war, blood, tea.
In ‘Life after Life’, Kate Atkinson explores alternative endings to a life, like branches in a tree. This book instead goes from the future far away or nearby to the past and the present, a linear process but flashing forth and back and forth, sometimes within a single paragraph, much like the web that are our own memories. It shouldn’t be possible and yet it is amazing.
This book has some of the best writing the English language has to offer, testing my vocabulary beyond its capabilities. As a non-native English speaker, I had to put it down a hundred times, to look up words or to wikipedia the bombing of Hamburg. Gabardine or unctuous, soot and idyll, scrupulous, torpor, widdershins, charabanc, as well as war jargon such as sprogs and erks. Then there are the abbreviations, AWOL, ATS, SOE, WREN, DNR, CND, OTU, HMV, and the easiest of them, the RAF. It was a study as well as a reading. Yet in almost five hundred pages, I wouldn’t want to change a single word or comma. It’s a stunning read.