I feel David Mitchell writes his best when he creates stories made up of stories that link to each other – whether direct and obvious, or only fleetingly by a tiny thin thread. His past two books were just okay for me, and I’m so glad The Bone Clocks goes back to what he is best in.
This time the stories have one similar, very strong thread – Holly Sykes.
We first hear her story as a somewhat rebellious teenager growing up in the 80s, running away from her heartbreak; an experience she forgets; and the tragedy that brings her home. And then we meet Hugo Lamb, Ed Brubeck, Crispin Hershey, and Marinus – some of whose names we’ve heard before and we’ll hear again as the story progresses – and how they are linked to Holly.
A story panning almost 60 years, Holly grows through her eyes and others from teenager to mother, cancer survivor and grandmother living in a future that looks more like the past than it does now. But this not a story of one woman’s strength. Yes, it is in some way, but it is also more than that, as Mitchell threads in the Horologists and Anchorites – two enemy communities who live forever – and at the centre of them, Holly Sykes, living in a battle she does not know exist.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bone Clocks, and wish it could have gone on longer. What of Lorelei and Rafiq, living in Iceland? Will she turn out to have that something special Holly (no longer) has? Does Holly ever get to see or speak to them again?
But ah, Mitchell did say he has a penchant for reusing characters across his stories. Maybe we’ll meet Lorelei down the line, even if only briefly. I just hope I’ll still remember her then, and how much I enjoyed this story.