The Cloud Sketcher – Richard Rayner

Having polished off All That Remains rather more rapidly than expected, I resorted to the books that line the shelves of the Gyford’s Walton residence…. Having already plundered the shelves on numerous occasions I knew I’d have to try something I’d previously rejected.

The one I picked, Richard Rayner’s The Cloud Sketcher, has proved a very good read, and I’d never have expected a novel to teach me about both American urban architecture and Finnish history, whilst simultaneously managing to build in a romance across a vast social divide!

The Cloud Sketcher follows the life, loves and career of Finnish architect Esko Vaananen, taking him and us from his childhood in a remote peasant village to the prosperity and opportunities available in Helsinki to a young architect at start of his career in the early years of the 20th century. This promising start is cut short by the bitter fighting between the Reds and the Whites as Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution spills over into Civil War in Finland, its neighbour and, at this time (I think…), vassal state.

The action then moves on to east coast of America in the glorious 20s, a time of prohibition and jazz, millionaires, gangsters and their molls, and the skyscrapers evoked in the title. Even if times the plot seems a bit bloated, Richard Rayner keeps you turning the pages right to the bitter end.

Buy it: Amazon link