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Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare…

Natural Flights of the Human Mind (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Clare Morrall

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18112102,568 (3.88)20
In a disused lighthouse on the Devon coast lives Peter Straker, a recluse who, in his dreams, is visited by an oddly disparate group of people from a grandmother to a teenager. But they have all been dead for 24 years - and Straker thinks he killed them.
Title:Natural Flights of the Human Mind
Authors:Clare Morrall
Info:Sceptre. (2006), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare Morrall (2006)



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Natural Flights of the Human Mind introduces two damaged, mysterious characters in a seaside village on the English coast. The first is Peter Straker, a misfit who lives in an abandoned lighthouse that each day grows closer to falling into the turbulent sea. Despite having no job, Straker lives a regimented life governed by numbers and routine. Creeping in around the edges of his carefully managed, solitary life are the voices of the 78. The 78 are the victims of a mysterious accident Straker believes himself to have caused.

Imogen Doody is a school caretaker determined to live life on her own terms after a young marriage that ended in disaster. Fortified by a powerful anger that gives her the control over her surroundings that she desperately craves, she's willingly walled off from any human companionships, fending of all advances from her family and would-be friends with her prickly attitude. Fatefully, she comes into some abandoned property from her long lost godfather. As she struggles to restore the abandoned cottage, Doody crosses paths with the mysterious Straker, and the two make a connection that sets in motion a series of extraordinary events that neither could have anticipated that sets them both on the path to destruction...or redemption.

This books is definitely a slow burn, carefully drawing out the often unlikeable but all-too-sympathetic main characters, peeling off the layers of their stories little by little, revealing their damaging histories, unpacking the troubled pasts that led them to their solitary, broken lives. The seaside village where the two collide, despite its beauty, is rendered starkly, a place of exile for Straker who hopes the whipping coastal winds will one day be powerful enough to sweep him and his lighthouse away.

If you're the sort of person who's ever wondered what the life of somebody foolishly or even unwittingly responsible for tragedy would be like, Natural Flights of the Human mind is a compelling glimpse into that psyche. I never expected this one to be a page turner, but I found myself rushing toward the finish desperate to see if the troubled characters Morall had brought me to care for would find redemption. Flights is a haunting and beautiful story of perils of inadequacy and guilt and the power of love and forgiveness. ( )
  yourotherleft | Jul 7, 2019 |
I really like Clare Morrall's work. She seems to have a a special connection with troubled people. I understand her description of how the same issues can keep going around and around in your head at a conscious level, and also how events in your life can have a long term effect at an unconscious level. Some people (such as me) are more affected by this than others. In relation to the impact on relationships, the question arises as to whether there is something you can do or say in a relationship that might stop this perpetual grinding and wearing away at your soul. In this book the possibility of forgiveness is raised but there is also a recognition that some people are just not ready or able to offer forgiveness. What happens to the wrong-doer in that case is not clear. The reason this book doesn't score a 5 for me is that a few too many of the situations and events are just too unlikely and coincidental, such that the element of realism is degraded. ( )
  oldblack | Jul 28, 2014 |
I, like other reviewers, got this book because I loved Astonishing Splashes of Colour. And, like them, I wasn't disappointed.

This is an introspective story of two people who both live soliary lives. Both are struggling to deal with guilt: Pete was responsible for a train accident in which 78 people were killed, and Imogen Doody believes she is responsible for her sister's suicide. Both are also dealing with living profoundly alone -- partly by choice, but not entirely. When the meet in middle age, they are drawn to each other, yet unable (at first) to let their guards down.

Clare Morrall is a very good writer who is able to explore deep themes with perception and grace, without sacrificing a good story to do so. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 25, 2012 |
An excellent example of making your world small as a coping mechanism. I loved this guy. ( )
  picardyrose | May 31, 2011 |
I got this to read because I'd likes Morrall's first book Astonishing Splashes of Colour a lot. I didn't have a clue what it was about and didn't read the back cover or the flyleaf or the reviews or anything like that. I just started reading and let the story slowly unfold. And it was great that way. So I'm not going to say anything about the story, except that it's got a lighthouse in it which you can infer from the picture on the cover, and lighthouses are always a good thing, aren't they? The story comes together piece by piece and is fabulously told. You don't need a synopsis, just go and start reading it. ( )
  nocto | Dec 13, 2010 |
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