The latest novel from David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks is another tour de force of interwoven stories with multiple characters told over several timelines. Ostensibly (mostly) about the life of one woman, Holly Sykes, and the people she meets and forms relationships with throughout her life, it’s also a story of a time war that plays out through the lives of (perhaps not entirely) ordinary people.
Or as I flippantly described it in an earlier post “the one that’s a timey-wimey-metaphysical-thriller”
Why did I want to read it?
I enjoyed Cloud Atlas once I got into it (you can read my review of that here and the film version here) and I always full intended to read more of Mitchell’s work but haven’t got round to it until now. As well as being well-received by reviewers this was long-listed for the Man Booker so a good place to start in catching up with his work.
What did I think of it?
I really loved this, was so happy that my first full novel of the year was such a pleasure. I found it much more readily accessible than Cloud Atlas but I don’t know if that’s just because that I’m more used to the way Mitchell structures his novels, or whether the timeline was just more chronologically straightforward. But the main thing is that I really liked Holly as a character, the strange things that happened to her, and enjoyed waiting to see how (or even whether) she would appear in those sections of the story narrated by other characters.
And there is a such a lot to enjoy; the five narrators who bring their different perspectives to the table, the nature of love and friendships and how they develop and change over time as the same people drift in and out of our lives at key points. And how the connections we make can come back and have an unexpected impact.
The speculative elements of the story – the struggle between two views on how those who are effectively immortal should behave towards others, and the vision of our own world in the near future – worked well and the whole thing is just so beautifully written and constructed that I read it in several enormous chunks as I got sucked in, desperate to know how it would all work out. Very satisfying indeed.