Loved this book.
Thankfully, I did not realize that Fowler had also written the Austen Book Club, a novel that I thought was banal and did not do Austen justice in so many ways. But I am digressing.
Other critics have found fault in the narrator seeming "off" - I thought that was a strength of the book. even before the big reveal, one senses that something is different that cannot merely be explained by having lost two siblings. I also likes the fact that this is in some ways an unwilling narrator who struggles to revisit certain memories. She discusses the quality of remembering, and the way (we all know) a photo of a moment can replace the memory of that moment. The fact that she divulges the details only piece by piece (by others perceived as deeply frustrating) was for me in a way quite satisfying because it allowed me to develop my own theories of what happened, and to examine my perceptions and beliefs.
It's not only memories that are put to the test, but also relationships and what we see in people, how we deal with grief and how we communicate. And humanity - the question of what is human and what is humane.
The language is deceptively simple and very engaging. Even though the narrator puts herself at some distance, I could relate and feel with her. And it certainly made me look closer at my next shopping whether that soap was tested on animals. Could not buy it.
[edited for spelling]
... between David Mitchell's style and talent for beautifully constructing interwoven stories, and the fact that the psychosothingies took so long in getting to the point that they got a little on my nerves by then.
I do like slow stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed the many and varied characters appearing. The story roughly follows Holly's life as told from very different perspectives. These episodes are very well crafted, and each of the protagonists has his or her own voice and style. Now and then there are tantalizing glimpses of people with supernatural abilities, but we are more than halfway through the book before we get to know a little more about them. When we do meet them (finally!!!!), it is weird but exciting, and very different from the first half of the book.
With Mitchell, a lot of the reward is the journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the very slow ride of teh first half (even though I could not fully relate to Crispin). When finally the psychosothingies came into focus, some of the earlier encounters fell into place. the book completely changed its pace (took me by surprise).
Story could be a little more condensed, storytelling fantastic, style extremely enjoyable, outlook on humanity slightly depressing but probably true.
Not his best, but liked it a lot overall.