Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Cloud Atlas part 1

I don't quite know what to think yet, but I'm going to keep reading.

For this Sunday's post I thought I'd write about a book I am reading with my English Teacher book club. I'm also using this book for the New Classics Challenge. The novel is called Cloud Atlas and it is by David Mitchell.

The novel is really six stories of completely different people from completely different times. Yet, the stories of these people are connected.

This novel is definitely unique, and I am quite intrigued as to how it will all end up. I am 153 pages into the novel and I have reached the fourth story in the book. The first story, called "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing," bored me a little bit. I liked that Adam was a man of good morals, but the writing style in this section was not quite captivating. The vocabulary was almost too complex and varied. I'm a lover of Victorian novels, which are full of big words and sentence structures that many people can't warm up to. So when I say the vocabulary is a little over the top, I definitely mean it. We find out that Adam has a tropical parasite, and his doctor is attempting to cure him of it. All of a sudden Adam's journal ends mid sentence and we are plunged into a very different world.

This world is the world of Robert Frobisher, a wanna-be composer who is desperate for money. His narrative is written through letters to his friend "Sixsmith." We follow him to the home of a retired and ill composer who takes Frobisher on to help him compose again. Meanwhile, Frobisher begins sleeping with this man's wife. Frobisher's tendency to use everyone around him while only caring for himself definitely made me dislike him. However, just as I was about to think I wouldn't like this novel, Frobisher happened to find in the library The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing! That got me very interested. Funnily enough, Frobisher thinks there is something weird about the journal too. He says: "Something shifty about the journal's authenticity - seems too structured for a genuine diary, and its language doesn't ring true -" (64). So it wasn't just me!

From Frobisher we move to Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery. There are even more connections now between the stories. For one thing, Frobisher's friend Sixsmith is a major player in this story. He informs Luisa Rey of a major scientifc project that is being pushed through to completion even though there are serious dangers. Sixsmith has refused to be paid off by the corporate meanies who want the project to go through, and he is eventually killed. However, Luisa ends up in posession of the letters Frobisher wrote to him 30 years ago. After reading the letters, Luisa realizes that both she and Frobisher have an abnormally shaped birthmark on their backs! She also begins searching for some of Frobisher's music, and finds out that he wrote a piece called "Cloud Atlas Sextet." Interesting...

I'm not far enough into the next story to know how it ties into the other stories, but obviously the connections will continue to build. I'm wondering if all of the stories are written by the same author, and the characters are going to find out they are all connected. Or maybe the idea of reincarnation will be involved somehow, since Lusia and Frobisher have the same birthmark. I'm not sure, but now I definitely want to keep reading so that I can see how everything turns out!

Has anyone read this? What did you think of it? (Don't give anything away!!)

Have a great week!


Wendy said...

I loved, loved, loved this book! You can read my review here (there are no spoilers). It is a complex, beautifully written novel - I think it would help to have it as part of a discussion to tease out the meanings...

gautami tripathy said...

This sounds like a good book. I am gonna check it out. Too many books, too little time!

Interesting blogs, links and books

Marie said...

I haven't read it but it sounds great. I think he wrote the book Black Swan Green which got a lot of praise.

xicanti said...

I constantly hear people mentioning this book, but I'd never actually read anything about it. It sounds fascinating!

Colleen said...

@Wendy - Thank you so much for the link to your review! I will let you know what I think of the book.

@gautami tripaty - I am with you; there is definitely too little time!

@marie - Oo, I haven't heard of the other title. It sounds interesting as well.

@xicanti - I will let you know what I think of it.