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Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson


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A God in Ruins is marvellous.

Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life, is one of those novelists whose writing is very clever yet it comes off naturally. Where Life After Life explored infinite chances, as lived by Ursula Todd, A God in Ruins is the life lived by her younger brother Teddy.

Teddy is a pilot with Bomber Command during World War II and his story is wonderfully told in the most non-chronological way. This is the cleverness I speak of. Atkinson tells the story in this patchwork fashion where the reader comes to understand the whole story but the characters often seem well ahead of the game, it being their life and all. Atkinson moves the reader back and forth between a present time and a past. It reminded me of The Time Traveller’s Wife in that way, which I enjoyed very much.

I was fascinated by the details of the air raids because of the first-hand accounts I have from James’ grandfather. Of the 120,000 who served, 55,573 were killed including over 10,000 Canadians. Teddy is British, which doesn’t get him extra luck one way or the other. We know early on that Teddy survives the war because we know that he has a wife and child. But his wife dies. We don’t know why, but we do know that his daughter is a bit of a terror, and probably was from birth anyway.

There are lovely repeated references throughout the book, like the exaltation of skylarks (the lifting of birds/planes), quips about whether a certain character believes in reincarnation (which is funny if you’ve read the previous title), lucky charms, and references to poetry and novels that offer opportunities to think deeper if you so desire.

Although the setting is during the war, or the present day is seen through that lens, it’s not a war novel. It’s more about the mystery and revelation we have throughout our life. The knowledge we gain after the fact, and how we choose to respond or not respond.

This novel is a strong contender for favourite read of 2016.

#AGodInRuins
http://www.kateatkinson.co.uk

Favourite Books of 2015

I used to keep track of my favourite reads each year so back at it. For 2015, my favourite new fiction title was Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt. Quirky, funny, gothic romance. This novel reminded me of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My favourite non-fiction was Separation Anxiety by Miji Campbell. Ordinary woman goes through ordinary growing pains but with notable wit and perseverance. This memoir reminded me of Mindy Kaling, with a Canadian-girl-next-door vibe.

Now, what does 2016 hold?

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Precious Cargo: My Year of Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 by Craig Davidson, Knopf Canada

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Christmas in Lanzarote

Dec 22-29 we hung out in Lanzarote, Spain with Darren and Julie. We celebrated Christmas, hung out, went on adventures and had a grand time. Santa even made a visit.

The road to the Hiperdino grocery

Travelling the dirt road to the Hiperdino grocery.

Villa garden

The lava rock garden at Finca la Corona villa.

Caldera

Volcano!

Volcanoes everywhere.

Arrieta, La Garita

The blue-flag beach at La Garita in Arrieta.

Haria pedestrian corridor

Christmas Eve in Haria

Poinsetta

Just your typical poinsetta tree.

Winery

Bermeja winery, Malvasia grapes.

Off roading to La Grifa winery

Off roading between wineries.

Off roading to La Grifa winery

Semi-circular windbreaks for the grapes.

Villa at sunset

Christmas eve sunset.

Sauna

Checking out the hot tub.

Sunset on the Caldera

View of the caldera from the villa.

Mirador del Rio to Ye

Going for a little walk on Christmas day.

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Windswept family photo.

Canary yellow mini on the Canary Islands

A canary-yellow mini for Christmas on the Canary Islands.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner.

Cool Dude

Have my people call your people.

Viewpoint

The hike down to the private beach.

Puddle play

Playing in the tide pools.

Cueva

Getting ready for our 2 km underground hike through the lava cave.

Cueva

Cueva de las Verdes

Orzola beach

Orzola beach

Orzola beach

My favourite beach. Deserted until 11 am. Orzola.

Orzola beach

Post-play snacks.

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Need zoom.

Flying home

In the sky, flying high, high and high, and high and high.