a god in ruins

I'm still reading in my spare time - lots of time on the bus the other day. I Just finished Kate Atkinson's newest novel, "A God in Ruins".  Mixed reactions.  I  still haven't made up my mind about her, although her jacket blurb says, "Few will dispute that [this book] proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age." I wouldn't go that far.

 I read a couple of her early novels that were in my building library while I waited for "Left Early, Took my Dog"  which I ordered because I liked the title.  I didn't really enjoy any of them and stopped.  But then I saw a TV mini-series, a BBC production based on three or four of her novels featuring Jackson Brodie. I remembered him and liked the actor who lead Brodie - Jason Priest {I think). Even so, I passed on "Life After Life".  I'd had enough.  But then (again) I found it in the ship library and read it and enjoyed it a lot, so much so that when I came home I ordered "A God in Ruins".   And now I'm confused again.

Why can't writers tell a story in chronological order any more?  Atkinson leaps around in time, telling her story in chapters that identify the time her characters are living through, backwards and forwards.  She drops terrible nuggets of information that she will elucidate sooner or later, major events like a death or a discovery that the reader will have to wait for and  piece together.  I could never cotton onto one of her major characters, she was so disgusting at the beginning. Later, I'm supposed to understand what this woman went through that made her what she was.  Not believable, also unforgivable. 

The various chapters, set in different times, succeed in varying degrees.  The best are like mini novellas or short stories and quite gripping. Others I could barely wade through.  Are you familiar with the expression that assesses quality when it is spotty?  Well, this book to me is" like that curate's egg": good in parts. (Curates were known to be poor so they couldn't afford good eggs.)

Neverteless, Or notwithstanding.  Go ahead and read it for  yourself.