Every nine years, atemporal twins Norah and Jonah lure an engifted to Slade House and consume their soul.
Each chapter comes with its own character – from musical mother and son Rita and Nathan Bishop to Dr Iris Marinus-Ferriby, via unreconstructed Detective Inspector Gordon Edmonds, shy student Sal Timms, and her sister Freya – and brings another encounter between the two sides of the Atemporal Schism, in the ongoing battle between the two David Mitchell introduced us to in The Bone Clocks.
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!
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.
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.
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.