David Mitchell was an author I had never heard of before, however I had heard of Cloud Atlas; his third book. When sitting in a creative writing class one day, I was recommended Ghostwritten by my teacher and was instantly drawn to the sound of it. What my teacher did not warn me about is how confusing it is, but it all paid off in the end.
“Why did it confuse me?” I hear you ask; the story focusses on 9 characters/narrators from around the world unaware of how their lives intersect. Seems simple enough. Until you aren’t properly introduced to each character and you don’t know what is real and what isn’t – that’s when it gets complicated. Even though you were not formally introduced to the narrators, I felt like I could easily empathise for most (if not all) of them – something I generally find hard to do even in the most straightforward book. Each part is 50-80 pages and that is one of the things that annoyed me as you are just starting to get drawn into the story, and it stops; not necessarily a negative factor though as you still want to continue.
In a way the story has a cyclical structure as the last part circles back to the first. There is also another thing right at the end which blew my mind and made me question everything I had read but I intend to keep my reviews spoiler free for you.
My favourite chapters were the ones where an old Chinese woman narrates her very eventful life from her little tea shack on the Holy Mountain. She was the character that I felt I had the best relationship with as the chapter was very emotive. The one friend she kept her whole life was a speaking tree who she gains most of her knowledge of the outside world from. In the next chapter we are introduced to a spirit who uses bodies as hosts. This spirit goes on to tell us that he used the Chinese lady’s body as a host and pretended to be the tree. This was another favourite chapter of mine.
I am amazed at how talented David Mitchell is in successfully displaying many different ways of writing through different personas and it still being highly effective. This was an excellent book that was highly engaging and one that I wouldn’t think twice about recommending.
Have you read any of David Mitchell’s books?