One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking …
The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.
It is always clearly obvious when a special book passes through our book club. The comments and speculation on theme, plot and style start early, long before the scheduled discussion, and the general vibe during the meeting is turned up a notch or two.
Such was the case this month with David Mitchell’s latest novel The Bone Clocks. This book is so cram-packed with discussion material, it is hard to know where to start. The struggle between good and evil is clearly the over-riding theme, but Mitchell does this age-old conflict with such a new and exciting mix of realism and fantasy that he creates a literary vortex of deception, trickery and fifth dimensional combat. Once in there, literally impossible to pull out!
Not to everyone’s taste certainly, but the majority of our group loved this book. It breaks many grammatical rules and the narrative style does not come under the category of ‘easy reading’, but Mitchell’s craft of spinning an intertwining, complex tale of other worlds has to be appreciated. The topical subjects that he constantly plants within his plot make what might be a pure fantasy into something relevant.
Also admirable, is the fact that he can organise his stories to include references to his other novels, which are undectable unless you’ve read them. And we agreed that the reaccuring precence of Holly’s character helped with stablising the story’s course.
It may sound like a difficult read, and some of us checked out the many online reviews to help with some clarifications of plot, (there are moments when a reader can easily get lost) and some found copious notes helped, but either way, it was a great effort by everyone to tackle this book and the majority of us feel it was an amazing read … one that scored high and will no doubt be a strong contender for our favourite book this year.