What a story this was! There are many thoughts to compile for a book like this, so after giving them a few weeks to figure themselves out, I think we may have a coherent book report on our hands. No major plot details will be related here, so read on!
I’d never heard of David Mitchell before, though his previous books have found critical acclaim. I was hooked once I saw the movie trailer for Cloud Atlas, and knew this was going to be a book I would love.
This unconventional novel follows six main characters through different eras in the past, present and future. Beginning in 1850 with Adam Ewing who is sailing across the Pacific Ocean, we have a tone that seems very Melville. Through his diary entries we learn that Ewing is a good, Christian man who falls very ill on his journey home, during which he befriends a doctor and a former Moriori slave.
The next chapter introduces young Robert Frobisher in 1931. A musical prodigy, he leaves his lover, Sixsmith, in London to travel to Belgium to study under a famous composer. Pretentious, despite his struggles and disinheritance, Frobisher works to find recognition and success, as we see in his self-absorbed letters to Sixsmith.
The story really begins to pick up in the next chapter, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery, which follows Rey, a journalist in 1970’s California. Read like a novel within a novel (and a lot like Grisham), Rey believes she is on her way to uncovering a good scoop about a nearby nuclear power plant, which she is pointed to buy a now-aged Sixsmith. The plot has some great action, and Rey is easy to cheer for. Continue reading