Six super chapters spanning six decades of Holly Sykes’ life, from Gravesend to Sheep’s Head via a Swiss ski resort, marriage and motherhood with a war zone reporter and a succession of encounters with various Atemporals, as the sporadic war between the Horologists and the Anchorites swirls around her.
Plus a cast of characters glimpsed to a greater or lesser extent in David Mitchell’s other novels. Smashing!
Author’s webpage: The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
Great interview with David Mitchell from The Guardian’s A Life In…. published back in August 2014.
Finely researched on both the empire of the Dutch East India Company and Japan’s traditional, closed society of the same era, with wonderful characters – good, bad and ugly – David Mitchell has done a brilliant job of bringing to life a remote era and distant part of the world.
Coming to the end of the story on the overnight train from Berlin to Paris, I cried.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet – David Mitchell
I loved this – read it in one sitting, on my last day of holiday in Shanghai. I’m sure it’s a novel that will resonate more with thirtysomethings than other age groups, and particularly those who grew up outside London, but it is a great story of events in a tricky teenage year, told from the perspective of an articulate (albeit stammer-afflicted), emotionally well developed boy/young man.
In terms of style – and David Mitchell does have a reputation for his Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten structure – Black Swan Green‘s “normal” narrative makes a refreshing change from the plot/character/literary style onion skins of previous novels.
Amazon.co.uk link: Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
An unexpected delight. I remembered thoroughly enjoying Cloud Atlas, and I’d not expected this earlier novel to use a simpler version of the linked stories theme, and I enjoyed it just as much.
Each chapter features a different genre, time and place, and largely separate characters – but there are just the occasional chance connections between people that link all of them together – although you probably don’t realise the significance at the time. The result is a novel that illustrates the butterfly effect theory, although in this case it is hard to work out who is the butterfly and which (where?) is the tornado.
Amazon.co.uk link: Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
Phil bought this for Christmas 2004…. and it has sat on the “Books to read” bookshelf ever since…. It’s not that I didn’t want to read Cloud Atlas, just that as a hefty hardback I knew that it would be awkward to read in bed, which is where I do most of my reading.
However, it turned out to be a classic “I’ve started so I’ll finish”, in the sense that I just kept having to turn the pages, to read “just one more chapter”. I loved the way the book’s structure and story set mirror a book’s physical make up of each of the signatures (I’ve just had to look that up on Wikipedia), where you only get a continuous selection of text printed on the middle pair of pages.
I also really liked the way David Mitchell gradually revealed the connections between the stories and their narrators, and carried forward a narrative stretching from the 19th century to an unspeficied number of centuries in the future.
If you enjoy fiction in flavours raning from historical, to modern, to science, then read this novel!
Buy it: Amazon link