Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

It’s beautifully written and if it was a map, a treasure map, to my eyes it would have so many X letters in it.

Though I’ve been avoiding spoilers from the movie and reviews, I knew there was going to be multiple characters with different stories from different period of time. And I think (Sir) David Mitchell has taken it as an opportunity to show his mastership of a true wordsmith through his characters, plots, and the weave and thread that make it as one whole story.

List of things that I remember from Cloud Atlas:

  • This sentence from the first page of the book: “If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, ’tis not down on any map I ever saw.”
  • Robert Frobisher character. I watched the movie, right after finishing the book. They change him and his story in the movie (that’s understandable though) but I will always prefer the book version of this young composer. I’m having difficulties to explain why I like this character but if I can take a guess maybe it’s because I want to be like him. I want to write letters (or email/blog ) like the way he did. I want to deal with life like the way he viewed and dealt with whatever life had thrown him. But uhm not that one particular preference of his, mind you. And not definitely that one decision of his.
  • It’s rich. Well, given that it has 6 mini story lines in it, we might expect that. But things can go wrong with author having too many stories in his head. It could be delicious of course, like one of those desserts or meals that has all our favorite stuffs in it. So delicious but unhealthy. Cloud Atlas is delicious and healthy, perfect portion.
  • David Mitchell slips explanation about what this book is about.  He did a remarkable job at showing part of “show, don’t tell” but he also had an amazing “tell”, a very neat one. Someday if I reread this book I hope I would find another tell. From this first reading I remember a part when Frobisher told Sixsmith about the Cloud Atlas sextet that he was working on.
Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year’s fragments into a “sextet for overlapping soloists”: piano, clarinet, ‘cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color.
  • I adore different language styles each main character uses in Cloud Atlas with exception of Timothy Cavendish. Reading his first part revoked me a headache. Even Zachry’s overly-abundant usage of single quote did not offend me as much as Cavendish’s narration haha, don’t know why.

Aaah, it’s one satisfying read. I borrow this book from a friend and will certainly get myself a copy for a reread.

 

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4 thoughts on “Review: Cloud Atlas

  • Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I guess I have an explanation for Frobisher character portrayal differences between the book and the movie. In the book we saw Frobisher as he had wanted to be seen by Sixsmith whereas in the film we saw Frobisher as himself. When I read the book, I felt that Frobisher always wanted to look happy and content in his letters for Sixsmith. I believe it was quite often that Frobisher reminded Sixsmith that everything was all right (although we knew that everything wasn’t all right).

    Yes.. big applause for the different language styles in every story. I had a hard time with Cavendish style and Ewing style though.

    I missed the part you mentioned in “show don’t tell” point. Well this book worth to be reread again. I hope I can get more things like this when I reread again this book.

    • I love talking about Frobisher haha so here goes: I think he was genuinely happy and not just wanted to look that way. I mean, for one that could be that brave to bring himself disinheritance and quickly find a clever idea how to stay alive, I think Frobisher would not let himself get caught in his problems so much that he needed to pretend to be happy.

      If he did indeed pretend, it would be for the sake of politeness. Just see how he behaved around Jocasta and Eva while gossiping and sounding his honest thought about the women of Zedelghem to Sixsmith.

      He could be one brutally honest man too when it came to music. I remember reading him saying to the pianist in the church about how he destroyed the piece that he’s playing. Not exactly those words, ah I forget, will check later.

  • Yes, Frobisher was always honest when he talked about music. He loved music so much. But I always sensed that he was not quite happy with his life in Zedelghem. Yes, he had some happy occasions when he lived there but I always sensed the bitterness in his life there. But in the end, I believe, he lived his life fully when he finished the sextet.

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