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Cloud Atlas

Jude Hughes describes herself as "a reluctant primary school teacher and occasional OU tutor who is still trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up. Three children and a dog share their living space with me, but I am more often than not to be found hiding in the garden with a book."

Read Jude's blog here.

Cloud_atlas My choice for OneBook is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

I have to say that Cloud Atlas is a seriously difficult book to describe in a short synopsis.  Beginning and ending with the tale of explorer, Robert Frobisher in 1850, it comprises a series of narratives which overlap and journey through time into the distant future, then circle around in order to end at the beginning, each individual section having reached its own conclusion.  Like a prose symphony the mood and texture varies in each of the sections. Mitchell alters his style with each new narrator yet there are links, often subtle and sometimes annoyingly inconclusive, which bind the whole. A running theme throughout is that of truth and lies; what is real and what is not. This theme is tackled at a personal level, to do with trust in love, and at a wider societal level, with regards to politics, religion and the state.  Another interrelated theme is that of human slavery and man’s inhumanity to man.

The characters are not believable as such, they aren’t supposed to be. They are exaggerations and pastiches, created to make a point. But I loved every one of them, especially Sonmi, a clone or ‘fabricant’ who has been created merely to slavishly serve at a monolithic fast food restaurant of the future, eating ‘soap’, presumably to cleanse her mind and certainly to keep her docile. She learns how to think and feel for herself, to tragic consequences which raise some uncomfortable questions.

Cloud Atlas is my choice for my OneBook, since it is a book which begs to be re-read when you get to the end.

Although, I rather not have just the one book if at all possible...

  • To find out what Wiki has to say about the book go here,
  • Go here to read about David Mitchell,
  • Read an interview with David Mitchell here,
  • Download a podcast interview here,
  • This link will let you buy a second hand copy of the book,
  • This link for a new one.

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Comments

David O'Connor Thompson

I love a challenge and Cloud Atlas sounds a challenge.

Despite the difficulty, your synopsis is works for me; it sounds most intriguing.

I only hope it isn't too sci-fi, as I sort of did sci-fi some years ago.

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Cloud Atlas is a book that will astonish and annoy you in turn, but for all its faults, it never fails to be entertaining. For that reason alone, Cloud Atlas is worth delving into.

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Mitchell is one hell of a writer, and this is one hell of an entertaining book. Mitchell moves between literary styles with astonishing ease, leaving this reader with little doubt that he is a shockingly talented writer.

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While David Mitchell is undoubtedly a talented writer, and ideas abound in the centuries-spanning, globe-trotting narratives that make up Cloud Atlas, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed with this book.

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