Falling in love for the over forties: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

 

Falling in love is the best, isn’t it?

The anticipation when the object of your desires draws near. The raised heartbeat, the sweating palms, the desire to spend all day, every day in your loved ones company, denying all others. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, all you can think about is them and the next time you’ll be reunited. And when that moment finally comes, when the two of you are alone, slipping between the sheets, your fingers clumsy, hungry to run over those silken pages, to open that glossy cover, to let your eyes feast on what’s inside …

I’ve loved many authors over many reading years – Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, later Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters and Neil Gaiman

Yes, I’m a fickle soul, but what can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

Recently, I’ve begun a new affair with David Mitchell’s Booker longlisted The Bone Clocks. I’d like to describe to you what it’s about, but I’m only halfway through and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure myself.

There’s a teenage runaway and a predatory, swindling Cambridge undergraduate, a conflict-addicted roving reporter covering the war in Iraq and a supernatural fight between good and evil – I think.

Social commentary, love lost, fantastical horror, life and death and a family wedding – all things that keep the reader engaged.

But it’s Mitchell’s writing that’s drawn me in. Rounded characters, genuine shocks and terrifying threat – both those otherworldly and all to familiar from the evening news – make us care and sympathise for his protagonists, even those who are in the wrong, even as they’re performing the most heinous acts.

To say I’d love to be able to write with his skill and intelligence, handle a range of settings and styles and manage to hold the lot together without it falling into a mess, is an understatement.

Have I found another author to love, another to add to the list and me so damned cynical and middle aged? Perhaps I’ll only know once the last page has turned.

Like love, I don’t know where this story will lead me in the end, but for now I’m just enjoying the ride.

 


Have you recently discovered a new author to love? Did you think you’d never love again, but found a book that sent your heart a-beating as if you were a teenager in the first throes of bookish passion?

Link : What the late Ursula K le Guin thought of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.

 

 

 

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40 thoughts on “Falling in love for the over forties: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

  1. Your review has me falling in love all over again too — although my more cynical side resurfaces after reading Le Guin’s review. I absolutely loved Cloud Atlas, and ran out to buy Thousand Lives, with which I was less than thrilled. This one sounds a lot more like Cloud Atlas. I’m focusing on fantasy these days, but this one definitely goes on my wish list for later.

    Loved Le Guin’s review just for her take on writing, too, e.g., “The present tense is a narrowbeam flashlight in the dark, limiting the view to the next step – now, now, now. No past, no future. The world of the infant, of the animal, perhaps of the immortal.”

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    1. I haven’t read Cloud Atlas, I confess – this is the first of his books I’ve read. He’s a funny author – several of his books sound crazy, a total mess, but I’m finding this one at least holds together more than it sounds like it should. A Thousand Lives sounds like a grim read – what didn’t you like about it? I’ve never read any Ursula le Guin’s books either – really must remedy that 🙂

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      1. Funny — I went back to read my reviews of the two books, and it turns out I remember liking Cloud Atlas more than I did at the time, and liking Thousand Autumns less than I did. Partly I was disappointed with TTAJZ because I was expecting it to be more like Cloud Atlas, where Mitchell did some interesting things with jumping around in time and cool futuristic world building. TTAJZ is instead historical fiction, a very different mood. I also got confused by the multitude of characters in the beginning, and it just didn’t grab me. I thought it got better in the middle and engaged me, but then it fizzled at the very end (much like Cloud Atlas did, if in a completely different way).

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      2. I’ve read a few books over the last few years that fizzle out at the end – Neil Gaiman can be guilty of this, and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist (a book I adored all the way through) was the same. Raising promises and questions throughout, then not delivering or answering those questions at the end. We’ll see if The Bone Clocks does the same thing. I might like TTAJZ more than you as I love historical fiction – I might give it a go

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  2. This one has gone straight onto my booklist, Lynn. I simple recommendation from you would probably have been enough, but your review left me drooling.

    Now please excuse me. I need to mop the keyboard 🙂

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    1. Hello dear Jane! Well, I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but it’s intelligent and compassionate about the Iraq war, sad and mysterious too, so a good start as far as I’m concerned. I’m often cautious about recommending books – I so often find I love something that other people don’t! 🙂

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      1. Me too – for the past 40 years I’ve been recommending Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast to everyone who’ll listen. Of those who read it, few are impressed. I don’t get it – I LOVE that trilogy.

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      2. I remember seeing the Gormenghast adaptation years ago and rather liking it, despite the fact Steerpike was such a conniving piece of work. Some works hit us at just the right time as well, don’t they, just the right period in our lives and if other people aren’t there, the work won’t chime the same. We must just hold our favourites to our hearts and be grateful we found them – and ignore the peasants who don’t see in them what we do 🙂

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      3. I was determined to disapprove of that adaptation – convinced the characters would be all wrong, but they were just they way I pictured them. I’d like to see that again.

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      4. Yes, quirky and very English – just like the book. It’s a fantastical read that takes you down forgotten corridors in a palace so huge that nobody is familiar with the whole building. It’s beyond my understanding that a country so enamoured of The Lord of the Rings has so little interest in the dark twists and turns of Gormenghast – not that there’s much connection between the two.

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      5. Too individual probably. The other half and I watched a very interesting programme on the statistics of successful pop music. It found that the biggest sellers were middle of the road songs – they might have a twist on the norm but generally they were safe, predictable, known. I think you could safely stretch that analysis to TV, film, art and books. Anything too unusual might make a dent critically but as far as sales are concerned … I know we could have worked that out for ourselves, but it was interesting to see the statistical analysis bear out your own instinct

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      6. My dad always said that when put to the vote, mediocrity wins every time. I don’t entirely agree – I’d be grateful for even a mediocre government, rather than a bunch of callous criminals currently in office.
        I know… It’s all been said too many times 😉

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      7. We’re choc-a-block with nutty Tories and confused liberals – few people around here seem to have any understanding of politics, so he’ll only get a small percentage of the votes, but I shouldn’t say that. There could be a miracle.

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      8. The world could do with the odd miracle! It’s the only way I want to vote now, though I confess at the last General Election I voted Labour just to try to keep the Tories out

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      9. It was sad – the Greens mounted an energetic campaign in Bristol. It looked as if they were in with a chance – albeit a slim one. Am I right in saying that at the last minute they recommended that voters put their X beside the Labour candidate?
        I don’t usually agree with tactical voting, but desperate times call for desperate crosses on ballot sheets.

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      10. I think that was the thinking, though Bristol is mainly Labour anyway, to be honest. I agree with you about tactical voting – you should vote with your heart or nothing will ever change and the status quo will never shake. But sometimes, tactics are all we have to fall back on. The plan didn’t work, but at least it scared the Tories a bit, eh?

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      11. Next time maybe we’ll do a bit more than just scare them – provided there are enough sensible voters left who haven’t given up hope and topped themselves.

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      12. At least the party has grown over the years, gained more seats here and there. Their progress may be too slow to make any huge difference to the state of the world, but it proves at least some of us were thinking of the planet as it sank under the waters

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      13. So long and thanks for all the fish.

        I don’t know what made me think of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but that’s what you get when you risk a conversation with me 🙂

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  3. Hearing of someone’s new love makes me want to love as well. Though the subject/s of this particular book don’t really do it for me. Ho-hum, I’ll just have to keep looking.

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    1. Never too late, that’s the joy of it! I’m always cautious about recommending a book I’ve loved in case the other person shrugs and thinks ‘meh’. It’s the finding of new loves that’s the tricky thing, isn’t it? Always disappointing to read a blurb full of promise and be let down my the reality of the book

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      1. I tend to binge on authors. I think that started with MIchael Moorcock while i was still at school, moved on to Asimov, and Robert Heinlein, progressed to Anne McCaffrey and Julian May; I don’t remember who I was reading in those middle years, it could have been the ‘classics’. More recently, Scott Lynch, Mr Martin, Robert Jordan . . . Could be I’m a serialised monogamist in my reading habits (as in life)

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      2. Me too! I devoured CS Lewis, Susan Cooper, Leon Garfield and Alan Garner as a kid then went through a sci fi stage (Philip K Dick, bits of Asimov and Clarke) then horror (Stephen King of course, Clive Barker). I tried Anne McCaffrey but she didn’t appeal. I enjoyed a touch of Grimdark with Joe Abercrombie and have been considering George RR Martin having loved the GoT series. Would you recommend them, though, in light of the fact the series may never be finished in Martin’s lifetime?

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      3. Ah, Clive Barker, I forgot about him. And of course, Philip K Dick and his electric sheep. I’ve left Abercrombie alone, but am now reading. And I forgot to include Bernard Cornwell (but of course, all that Anglo-Saxon stuff) and let’s not forget Lindsey Davis (one of Sammi’s favourites, if I remember right).
        Ah, Mr Martin. I became acquainted with his work through a collection of short stories. Don’t remember what it was called, but I enjoyed it and if you can find it I’d recommend it as a good and varied introduction. I then read first 3 books of GoT but when I couldn’t get hold of BK 4 (before I’d discovered Amazon), I wandered off. I think next came Anne Rice’s vampires, in their entirety. I then returned to George Martin to read his Armageddon Rag, which isn’t fantasy, more a modern-ish thriller-ish. Focused on rock music, I loved it. And I forgot to say that in those (absent) middle years I devoured everything ever written by Orson Scott Card. More recently, Victoria Schwarb’s Colour of Magic trilogy has occupied my pre-sleeping hours, and several YA authors whose work features angels and/or elves, but I’m lousy on names.
        Oh, return to Martin. The TV series isn’t written by him, only in consultation.
        Oddly, the only thing of Stephen King I have read is his book On Writing. Did I mention Jim Butcher? Yea. Tease me with some more names. Yes to Ursula LeGuin.

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      4. In recent years I’ve just been sauntering through whatever I could pick up second hand or what I could get people to buy me for my birthday – Suzanne Collins, Patrick Ness (who I love), Frances Hardinge, Andrew Michael Hurley, tons of Gaiman, Attwood, Sarah Waters … All very pleasurable. I’ll look our for the first few GoT – I read they go downhill after that anyway! 🙂

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      5. For years my reading material was supplied by libraries. Recent years (since Amazon!) I have been buying, though that’s mostly non-fiction) I was still relying on libraries for fiction until I bought the Kindle. I like the Kindle. But I was used to sharing books with my daughter, and now I cannot. However, good side, I can increase font size when my eyes start getting tired (around midnight!)

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      6. I’ve been tempted by Kindle but not yet succumbed. Silly really as it’s all reading and that’s the main thing. The Kindle is handy for travelling and as you say, as our eyesight grows dim.

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      7. My only complaint of it is the inability to share books. But it’s great to be able to download from Amazon; in less than 5 minutes there’s a new book to read. I used to wait for the post . . . .

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