Category Archives: England

Mid-Readalong Thoughts on The Bone Clocks #BoneClocks17

I’m three-quarters of the way through The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, so if I don’t do a Mid-Readalong post soon, I’ll have to do a Wrap-Up post instead. It’s a good thing the #BoneClocks17 readalong was scheduled for a leisurely pace, because I’ve been at it for well over a month, interspersed with other reading. (I seem to remember I took forever to read Cloud Atlas, too!)

It’s a good book to read slowly because The Bone Clocks is all about time and the brevity of the human lifespan. There are naturally atemporal beings (resurrected souls) who never die, characters who die tragically young, and otherwise regular people who suffer from debilitating visions of the past and future. I don’t think I’m giving any spoilers here in this post, but it’s a discussion post, not a book review, so if you’re a paranoid, spoiler-averse reader like myself, be forewarned!

I’ve been reading The Bone Clocks in ebook format downloaded through the library, so I lost the notes and highlights from the first half of the book when the ebook loan expired (twice). There is a lot happening, and a lot to ponder on every page, so notes would have been helpful!

I knew nothing about The Bone Clocks going into the readalong. The only other book by David Mitchell that I’ve read is Cloud Atlas, which also has loosely connected stories widely separate in time and place and characters who appear in the periphery of other books. The Bone Clocks has an element of dark fantasy that I don’t recall from Cloud Atlas. After The Bone Clocks comes Slade House, (which I mistakenly thought came before, at the start of the readalong) and that has some recurring characters, too, I believe.

I also had been confusedly thinking that I’d read David Mitchell’s first novel before he was a well-known writer, which would have been Black Swan Green from 2006, but turns out I was mixing up my authors and was thinking of A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls from 2003. (Are there as many English novelists named David as there are American novelists named Jonathan, I wonder?)

The section of the book narrated by the literary enfant terrible character, Crispin Hershey, adds a metafictional aspect to the dark humor prevalent throughout The Bone Clocks, which over all, has a melancholy, rather than funny, I would say. (Being a good person in the time you have on earth is a good thing, but no one can really say why.)

Crispin Hershey’s later novels never sold as well as his first cult classic, Dessicated Embryos (referred to earlier in The Bone Clocks before readers meet Crispin Hershey) and he’s way beyond the deadline for turning the new novel about the lighthouse in Australia he’s under contract to his publisher for.

cover imageIn this passage from The Bone Clocks, Crispin is on the phone with his agent, Hal, desperately trying to avoid paying back the advance on the nonexistent next book, which sounds suspiciously like the The Bone Clocks:

“Where does the Australian lighthouse fit in?”

I take a deep breath. And another. “It doesn’t.”

Hal, I am fairly sure, is miming shooting himself.

“But this one’s got legs, Hal. A jet-lagged businessman has the mother of all breakdowns in a labyrinthine hotel in Shanghai, encounters a minister, a CEO, a cleaner, a psychic woman who hears voices” – gabbling garbling – “think Solaris meets Noam Chomsky via The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Add a dash of Twin Peaks…”

Hal is pouring himself a whisky and soda: Hear it fizz? His voice is flat and accusative: ‘Crispin. Are you trying to tell me that you’re writing a fantasy novel?’

‘Me? Never! Or it’s only one-third fantasy. Half, at most.’

‘A book can’t be half fantasy any more than a woman can be half pregnant. How many pages have you got?’

‘Oh, it’s humming along really well. About a hundred.’

‘Crispin. This is me. How many pages have you got?’

How does he always know? ‘Thirty – but the rest is all mapped out, I swear.’

Hal the Hyena exhales a sawtoothed groan. ‘Shitting Nora.’

Enjoying an unexpected day off due to the major nor’easter named Niko that blew in early this morning. I hope the storm doesn’t bring harm to anyone who has to go out in it today!

Bone Clocks Readalong button
I’m off to read other mid-Readalong posts now:

The Bone Clocks Readalong Part 1

The Bone Clocks Mid-Read Thoughts

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1-30-17 #IMWAYR

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I’m still reading Swing Time and The Bone Clocks! I realize they are taking me forever, but I am savoring them instead of devouring them. However, I need to pick up the pace with The Bone Clocks because the other #BoneClocks17 Readalong participants are way ahead of me!

So today I’m going to talk about my current audiobooks.

cover image of audiobook Memory ManI listened to Memory Man by David Baldacci last week because I have never tried reading one of his books and he is so popular at the library.

The main character in Memory Man, Amos Decker, has an altered brain due to an injury resulting in synesthesia and a photographic memory. In addition, he has suffered a hugely tragic loss, so he has the potential to be an interesting detective character and the book could go into some fascinating neuroscience digressions, but if you take away the action of the story, there’s not much else there, so I won’t be going on to #2 in the Amos Decker series (The Last Mile). Not right away, anyway.

Audiobook narrators Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy are very good individually, and I like them both. but I didn’t like having Orlagh Cassidy pipe up only whenever a female character said something (even just in Amos Decker’s memory), when the bulk of the book was narrated by Ron McLarty. That was distracting!

cover image of audiobookThis week I’ll be listening to Wicked Autumn, an English village mystery, too dark to be a cozy, by G.M. Malliett, which is more my cuppa. The detective character, Max Tudor, is a tall, rangy, recently ordained Anglican priest who is a former MI5 agent. The village of Nether Monkslip, where he is the vicar, is full of promisingly quirky characters; one of whom is now dead. Next up will be A Fatal Winter (Max Tudor series, #2)!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR #BoneClocks2017

Meme badgeReading and Bloggiesta-ing at the same time today, adding one more day to the weekend, thanks to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday!

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This week I’m reading Bone Clocks by David Mitchell for a readalong (#BoneClocks2017) hosted by Care at Care’s Books and Pie and Melissa of Avid Reader’s Musing. I also just downloaded Slade House by David Mitchell for audiobook listening this week, because I heard through the readalong crowd that there is some connection between the two. I hope I won’t get the two confused!

What is Bone Clocks all about? I have no idea, really…It appears so far to be a quest story with elements of fantasy and literary fiction, tucked inside a coming of age story. (Or the other way round.) Set in England. In other words, one of my favorite kinds of book! I knew nothing about Bone Clocks going into the readalong (and I wasn’t planning to sign up for challenges, etc. this year) but the other books by David Mitchell that I’ve read (Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas) were so good that I couldn’t resist this chance to read Bone Clocks and talk about it at the same time.

The first part of Bone Clocks is narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl who is starting to assert her independence from her parents, especially her mother. Holly Sykes is a handful, but loves her younger brother, Jacko. (Holly reminded me a little of Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, who also had an unusual younger brother, but I don’t know if there were any deliberate references, as I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time in ages.)

The narration in Bone Clocks has just switched to Hugo Lamb, a horny undergraduate at Cambridge, who seems callow and obnoxious at first, but if he turns out to be on the side of good (vs. evil) I expect he will redeem himself. He’s older than Holly – who is callow and obnoxious at age 15 – but boys mature later than girls?

If you want to jump in for the rest of the #BoneClocks17 Readalong, it’s not too late! It’s scheduled to go through February.

Bone Clocks Readalong button
The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Melissa)

The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Care)


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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