I finally read this book! I know, I’ve put it on several TBRs over the last 10 months but it took someone to tell me, in person, “read it!” to actually bother. I’m really conflicted about this, I have to be honest – overall I loved it but it took me a long while (over 300 pages) to get to that point. Once I was there, I couldn’t put it down – the final 200-300 pages were read in one day.
I’ve never read any David Mitchell before – I’ve had Cloud Atlas on my shelves to read for years – and maybe going in to this without the background on some of the more subsidiary characters was a bad thing (although I now do want to go back and read more of his work and I’ve been motivated to do that!).
This essentially is a book about the life of Holly Sykes. The first section, in 1984, is told from the perspective of Holly aged 15 on the day her brother disappeared. The second follows Hugo in 1991 and how he meets Holly in Switzerland (he then features somewhat in future sections of the book). Then we fast forward to 2004, where Ed Brubeck is waiting – he’s been waiting to say his piece for a while as he featured heavily in Holly’s tale in part one.
The fourth section is set in the present day – 2015 – and follows author Crispin Hershey and this is where I started to lose the thread a bit. Up until this point the book was chugging along at a good pace, I read most of the first 300 pages in a day, but this section felt stilted and slowed me down considerably, I just drifted and I wasn’t invested in this thread of the overarching story. I really didn’t like Crispin, or his voice which is a problem I do frequently have with first person narration. Then Holly popped up and it started to find it’s pace again, I still didn’t like Crispin but Holly (and Aoife) were the shining parts of this section and the only time I actually felt invested in Crispin was when Holly was around. Eventually, I was sad to see this section go as while I didn’t like his voice, I liked a lot of the plot that happened during this section!
I got what I wished for in the fifth section; it answered a lot of questions. Who IS Esther Little? Who IS this mysterious Marius character. This section made the drag of the previous sections worth it. It was crazy, it was by no means an easy read but it was a good one! It gave background to things and while some of it was a little confusing and required reading twice, some of it was a little outrageous, it was what I’d been waiting for from the beginning!
Then, finally in part 6 we’re thrown way in to the future, a dark and twisted future where Holly is raising 2 orphans. I won’t give too much away about this section but it’s something I would love to read more of. I would love to know what happened to Lorelei, I’d love to know what happened to Marius. By the end of this book I was so invested in Holly I felt sad to put it down, however much me and this book disagreed to begin with!
Overall, I’d give this a 4/5. The start was a bit rocky, then it started to up the pace; once I had completed it I understood things that were maybe confusing very much earlier on, subtext became important and I really liked that intricacy. I will definitely read more of Mitchell in the future!