What a wonderful novel AND a beautiful film! The day I bought this book my roommate asked if I wanted to go see the film and after a lot of internal dialogue made external I decided to see the film before reading the book and it was well worth it. The score of the film was one of the most beautiful I’ve heard in ages and it was also visually stunning.
I knew this would be a good novel because it was only short listed for the Man Booker Prize! It was nominated for and won a few other awards. I’m still convinced, in general, the runners-up on the shortlist are often better than the winners. I have read the winner that year, Alan Hollinghurt’s The Line of Beauty, and although I really enjoyed Hollinghurst’s novel it was a tome and I struggled, so this book was easier to read and I would say more enjoyable for it’s set up and it’s approachability.
One of the quotes on the cover talks about Mitchell’s effortless changing between genres within the novel and that was definitely one of the highlights. Mitchell switches between various fiction forms from historical, contemporary, science and speculative. Of the stories, The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish was my favorite. The film version was hysterical and the book was some how filled with more wit and even more entertaining.
I’m glad I saw the film first because it provided a visual reference for many of the characters and I thought the decision to have the same actors play parts across all stories was brilliant. Although I made the connections in the book it was definitely easier in the film with the visual references, however the book made a few more of the connective details apparent such as that between the Luisa Ray and Timothy Cavendish storyline.
There were a bunch of great lines throughout the novel, but I only highlighted a few. My favorite by far, and I remember loving it in the film was
“A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.” (64)
It’s just perfect. Next time you’re halfway through a book, think about it and you’ll realize it’s true. You’re still in love, you’re not jaded yet and you don’t have the satisfaction of completion.
Recommendation: READ IT! Overall I really enjoyed this book and it will definitely go on my re-read shelf and I am looking forward to reading more works by Mitchell.
Opening Line: “Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.”
Closing Line: “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from Cloud Atlas
“‘Come now, what’s a reviewer?’ I reasoned. ‘One who reads quickly, arrogantly, but never wisely…'” (149)
“My fifth Declaration posits how, in a cycle as old as tribalism, ignorance of the Other engenders fear; fear engenders hatred; hatred engenders violence; violence engenders further violence until the only ‘rights,’ the only law, are whatever is willed by the most powerful.” (344)
“Wars do not combust without warning. They begin as little fires over the horizon. Wars approach. A wise man watches for the smoke, and prepares to vacate the neighborhood, just like Ayrs and Jocasta. My worry is that the next war will be so big, nowhere with a decent restaurant will be left untouched.” (44)