Man Booker Prize Longlist 2014
I admit that I love Dickensian novels that unravel numerous seemingly unrelated threads. Mitchell has once more delivered one of those novels, with a touch of phantasy added. He has written an allegory on good <-> bad, the powers that be <- > the masses, the cruel <-> the victims, rich <-> poor, Holly Sykes is the person who brings all the threads together. We meet her when she is 15 years old, living in Thatcher’s England. We say goodbye to her when she is in her eighties knowing that her cancer has returned. In between we are taken along in her life and her encounters with the ‘Atemporals’ and the ‘Anchorites’. Holly has unwittingly become a deciding factor in the ungoing battle between those groups. The first are a species that dies and is reborn time and time again, they are mostly wise and inclined to be good. The other groups wants to live forever as well and has found a way by drinking the souls of innocent victims; this kind of leads to them being inclined to be the bad guys. In six episodes Mitchell takes us along in Holly’s life, though she is not the main protagonist in all episodes. In every episode more facts about Atemporals and Anchorites are revealed. In the fifth episode the final battle between the two groups takes place. I must admit that Mitchell almost lost me there; I started to think ‘the Man Booker jury might have had a point by not placing The Bone Clocks on the short list’. I just do not like phantasy or fighting let alone the combination. And then in the final part Mitchell comes back with a vengeance. He chillingly describes a bleak western world that has fallen into decay and poverty and in which people are threatened by thugs who have formed aggressive militias. Holly Sykes, living in a remote part of Ireland, is one of those people trying to survive and trying to make things as good as possible for her grandchildren whilst faced with religious fanatism, cruelty and despair. At the very end an Atemporal comes to the rescue of her grandchildren. Holly accepts being separated from the children. She knows that she cannot provide for them much longer, their future is more important than the pain caused by their separation. Mitchell has written a novel in which choosing between good or evil is prominent. He has managed however to not make it too ‘ black and white’. So Holly is saved by an ex-boyfriend turned Anchorite at the end of part five and will be able to take her own life thanks to an apparantly cruel militia officer who does not want an old lady to be ravaged by even crueler militias. Holly on the other hand is no saint, she is just a normal person trying to lead her life as best as she can. Life is not black <-> white, a message Mitchell gets over loud and clear. I loved The Bone Clocks. Sorry judges: Why did it not make the Short List?