A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson

From a review on Amazon.com:

"The protagonist, Teddy (Edward) Todd, is a stoic bomber for the RAF. I learned more than I ever knew about the RAF, the mechanics of the bombers, especially the Halifax (Teddy’s plane), his different crews when he’s the Skipper, the strategy of the British and untold suffering. The average age of an RAF was 22, and only half of them survived. And shocking to me is that Churchill did not credit them after the war. A different perspective, for sure, of what the British, at least Atkinson, may think of Churchill.

When Teddy is challenged about dropping bombs on innocents, Atkinson surely emphasizes her theme of savagery in the final analysis. This epic novel stretches on to a century of Teddy’s life as Atkinson circles back in time to grab different points of view. The suppressed inner-workings of this British family are exposed. His mother Sylvie is a passionate woman who favors Teddy of all her children, her “best boy.” I believe I could almost touch his family. His wife, Nancy, is independent and enigmatic; her cordiality is a mystery at times. They have one child, Viola, who is gifted with the best dialogue. She wins the most selfish daughter and mother award, if there were such an award. Her responses are demeaning and nasty to her father and children, particularly her son, Sunny.

Both of her children are born on a commune, sired by Viola’s husband, Dominic, possibly a bi-polar, child-like jerk. Viola’s daughter, Moon, serves as the philosopher symbolizing the inability of the family to communicate with each other. Teddy, despite his love for family, cannot express his thoughts. He actually feels more comfortable as a bomber pilot than returning to the safety of family. His childhood love of nature evolves into a small journalistic job after the War. Atkinson emphasizes the goodness of Teddy and I wonder if he genetically passed on his inability to show emotion. The British stiff upper-lip and all that may not be elusive. Ursula emerges (sister to Teddy and star of Life After Life) when Atkinson wants to provide the reader with some humor and reality."