Cloud Atlas presents dizzying rate of episodes across ages, times, continents and lives. The novel opens with the mid-19th century, where a ship is being sailing across some islands in New Zealand. We are here introduced with an American notary named Adam Ewing, his experiences with tribal people, his purpose of visit and most important of all, his acquaintance with a stowaway Moriori named Autua. All this is described via his mode of writing and maintaining a diary, in which all his encounters are vividly described.
Second string of episode starts in the 1930’s in a Belgian estate called Zedelghem wherein his father disinherits a bisexual man named Robert Frobisher and who aspires to become a famous composer serves as amanuensis to an aged and once well-famed composer Vivian Ayers. Third story dates back to California during the 1970’s where a young journalist named Luisa Rey challenges to open up an industrial conspiracy. Incidents corresponding to the fourth thread of the novel display the contemporary settings of a publisher named Tim Cavendish’s life in London. The publisher is around 60-ish is incidentally imprisoned at an old age home by his brother whom he thought is actually helping him out of a current financial problem. Fifth story has futuristic undertone with setting in Korea. In here the story opens up with a cross examination of Sonmi-451, a genetically created ‘fabricant’ or a slave. Her ‘crime’ was her inherent desire to be and live like a human being. Sixth and the last story described a completely destroyed future depicted in Hawaii. It is in this part of the novel, the story is juxtaposed between superstition and science fiction. And this is being witnessed by a character who is a goatherd named Zachry. It depicts the aftereffects of violence and war and in between these themes the character undergoes transformation and ends to being the protagonist and of course a better human being.
I am completely in love with this book, this is one of the best novels I have read so far. I did couple of re-reading of certain sections of the book as I found them completely ingenious and worth taking points.
Mitchell indeed is a master of construction and dialect with a craft of spilling his heart’s desires deftly. Every story within the novel has a different tone with a diverse style of narrative, which has the power of carrying the reading to and fro the times and social milieu. The concept of incarnation is remarkably presented without any disarrangement of the entire plot. The book is saturated with themes that are challenging and profound.
One of the best things that I have read so far, totally in awe!