Progress Report on David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (by Jill)


Bone clocks cover

Yesterday was a very productive reading day. And I even finished the laundry, and got the dogs walked, and enjoyed a downpour during said walk. I wish I were retired sometimes. I’d get so much more done if I didn’t have to bother with working.

When last I updated about The Bone Clocks, we had just met the douche-y Cambridge undergraduate Hugo Lamb. His tale takes place during Christmas break of 1991-92, partially at Cambridge and partially in Switzerland where he and his friends go to ring in the New Year. There, he meets a bartender named Holly Sykes, and he falls in love with our Holly, now 22. Hugo, prior to meeting Holly, is exceedingly cynical when it comes to the concept of love, but after he meets her, he becomes exceedingly poetic about it. “Love is fusion in the sun’s core. Love is a blurring of pronouns. Love is subject and object. The difference between its presence and its absence is the difference between life and death. Experimentally, silently, I mouth I love you to Holly, who breathes like the sea. This time I whisper it, at about the violin’s volume: ‘I love you.’ No one hears, no one sees, but the tree falls in the forest just the same (192).” Hugo is conflicted after his night with Holly: some of his schemes of possibly questionable legality and definitely questionable morality are falling apart at home. Does he return home and face the music? Does he hide out in Switzerland with Holly? And then a third door presents itself, which advances our hidden plot a bit. More on that in a later post.

The next part of the novel jumps us forward to 2004, and our next narrator is Ed Brubeck, the nice boy who found Holly and brought her home when her brother Jacko disappeared back in 1984. He and Holly are partners, with a six-year-old daughter named Aoife, and Holly’s younger sister is getting married and they’re at the wedding. Ed is a war journalist who has been spending time in Iraq (where else would a war journalist be in 2004?), and Holly wants him to stop and come home. He’s missing their daughter’s childhood and she’s worried he’ll die over there. But Ed has become something of a war junkie and doesn’t think he can give it up. Ed’s section ends with his final decision on whether or not he will return to Iraq unknown. I’m sure we’ll learn it eventually.

I have been enjoying The Bone Clocks quite a lot now that I’ve been able to sit and read it in longer bursts than the ten to fifteen minutes before going to sleep every night. Mitchell is embedding the fantasy story deep beneath the more mainstream fiction tale, and I’m not going to lie, getting to the bottom of the non-aging people Hugo Lamb takes up with and the people living inside of other people that Holly runs into in 1984 is keeping up reading momentum, though the surface story is also quite compelling. The characters are sympathetic (even Hugo, once he falls in love with Holly, becomes less irritating) and the plots are interesting, though disjointed. I’m sure, knowing what I know about Mitchell’s work, that everything will get nicely tied together sooner or later. The next section of the novel takes place in 2015, and after that we head into the unknown future. At the time of publication, of course, 2015 was also the unknown future, though a very close one. I don’t think that The Bone Clocks leaves the twenty-first century, though I know Mitchell has done so in other works (or at least in Cloud Atlas he does). I’m interested to read about his take on the later parts of our current century—speculative fiction can be fun, as long as it doesn’t delve into dystopia. I’ve had a bit much of that so far in 2016.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to have a Read All Day Friday, though I’m not sure how successful I’m going to be. It’s victory enough to have had a Read Most of Wednesday this week, as well as a Read While Under the Dryer at the Salon Thursday in the same week. Next week I get to have a Read While Someone Else Drives to Yosemite Saturday, which is also very exciting to me. I hope I can get through The Bone Clocks quickly, so I can carry a smaller book around with me in Yosemite. I’m hoping to get some Books in Nature shots for the blog while I’m there!

This entry was posted in David Mitchell, Fiction - Fantasy, Fiction - general, Fiction - literary, Reviews by Jill. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Progress Report on David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (by Jill)

  1. lfpbe says:

    I won’t be reading all day tomorrow. 😦 But I’ll aim for a few hours. Let me know if you want me to post at all while you’re on your trip.

    • badkitty1016 says:

      I haven’t read at all today. I used my reading time to organize the hall closet, which desperately needed to be done. And I took a couple bags of stuff to Goodwill, too. I did buy a few books, though. I think I’ll be okay to post on my trip. Are we still doing lunch on Friday?

  2. Season C says:

    I stumbled upon this blog after watching Ingrid Bergman in Hedda Gabler. Very interested to read your review of the of this book!

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