I’m going to be honest; I decided to be incredibly shallow for once, and to watch a movie just for this actor called Ben Wishaw.
Don’t blame me, I think he’s cute. He was in this movie called Cloud Atlas. It seemed interesting, but I never got to watch it. Instead, I decided to read the book first, despite a friend’s warnings that I should try watching the movie first, since everything would be hard to connect otherwise. I beg to differ. While Cloud Atlas can be a difficult read at times because of its six different writing styles and the many philosophical themes, it wasn’t all that hard to connect the plot points. Be warned though, because it’s hard to say something about the book without spoiling majorly.
‘A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.’
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell‘s third book, is a story made up out of six stories, each written in a different style -and the styles are historically accurate!- and all of them filled with beautiful quotes and hidden wisdom. It’s an amazing journey that takes you from the nineteenth century South Pacific, to a post-apocalyptic future and everything in between. It’s the story of one person, six times over, each time different but just as enthralling. Cloud Atlas is very philosophical; it’s about how one human can be great, but how humanity itself can be cruel, heartless and terrible in general. And there’s also the thing where the entire story is basically one big circle; Ewing’s reincarnation Frobisher finds his logbook, Frobisher’s reincarnation Luisa meets Frobisher’s lover Sixsmith and finds the Cloud Atlas Sextet, and so on. The way the stories are woven together are done in a way that keeps me interested and excited to find the next clue in how everything falls together in the end.
The book consists out of ten chapters; five of the six stories are split up in two parts. Only the central story -which is also the chapter where everything really becomes
clear- is not interrupted. The structure of the book is cleverly done and clear. The characters are all charming and interesting in their own way. I liked most characters, but the one who really kept met interested was Robert Frobisher. He is a young man, disowned by his father, who helps a famous composer named Arys write music again. He writes letters to his lover Rufus Sixsmith. He is cynical and sarcastic in his letters, often makes fun of his old teacher back in England. But he isn’t just funny; he is flawed too. Frobisher is for example obsessed with his music, completely shameless -he even tells his lover that he’s having an affair with Arys wife- and above, very manipulative.
‘Whoever opined “Money can’t buy you happiness” obviously had far too much of the stuff.’
All of Mitchell’s characters are like this; flawed and imperfect. Human. Because despite all the reincarnation and recurring themes, all his characters are perfectly human. Some of them even appear in other books; so does Arys’ daughter Eva return in Black Swan Green, and two of the main characters are even supposed to be minor characters in other books!
So, to recap; Cloud Atlas, a rather philosophical book consisting out of six stories about reincarnation. Not the easiest book I’ve read, but definitely worth my while. A must-read for everyone who loves piecing things together or people who like their books with a moral. Now, I still wonder what the movie is like..
‘History admits no rules; only outcomes.’