David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks


The latest addition to my website is David Mitchell‘s The Bone Clocks. While this did make the Man Booker 2014 longlist, it surprisingly did not make the shortlist. I suspect that the fantasy elements in the book, which at times come close to being Dan Brown-ish, may have put off some of the judges, as they seemed to put off some reviewers. The story follows Holly Sykes from age fifteen in the 1980s to her mid-seventies, well into the future. In the 1980s, she is seemingly a fairly normal girl – arguing with her mother, fed up with school – and she is eager to run away to live with her boyfriend, ten years her senior. As a child she had voices and then visits from a strange woman who eased the voices, sitting on her bed talking to her. When the woman caused the death of a bully, Holly had a collapse and a doctor was able to cure the voices. Holly ran away, both from her mother but also from her boyfriend, whom she found in bed with her best friend. We follow Holly over the years, mainly through the eyes of others but, as we follow her story, we learn of a mysterious conspiracy, of which the strange woman on Holly’s bed is clearly part, and of a group of people determined to combat the conspirators. The conspiracy, and Holly’s role in it, is only gradually revealed, as we also learn the various roles of the people she meets in the various chapters. Mitchell throws in his views on the Iraq War, environmental issues, literary conferences and overrated novelists, which all add to the flavour of the book. I thought it an excellent read, highly original and very well told, even it does occasionally stray too close to Dan Brown territory.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Nanosecond

    Thanks for the review. This one might be a good novel for me to listen to as an audiobook. I thought that Cloud Atlas was enjoyable but not spectacular.

    1. tmn

      I very much enjoyed Cloud Atlas but was less impressed with his more recent ones but this one, I thought, was well up to standard.

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