The Cloud Sketcher: A Novel
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The Cloud Sketcher: A Novel

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  180 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In a tiny village in Finland, Esko Vaananen is at the brink of despair -- he loves a woman he can never have. Suddenly, in the magical light of the aurora borealis, he has a vision of an impossibly tall building rising gracefully from the frozen lake and disappearing into the clouds above him. This pilvenpiirtaja -- "cloud sketcher" or skyscraper -- sparks a lifelong quest...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 19th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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Marie
I don’t hate Esko, but I do find him distasteful. I don’t like his relationship with Katerina, because she’s just not there — as a character, she simply can’t support Esko’s obsession. Esko’s story is told in close, close third person, but all Rayner can do is repeat endlessly how fascinated by Katerina Esko is. But she has no particular quality of any kind that really seems interesting enough. And given the backstory Rayner offers? It seems somewhat obscene. I should care about her, for that ve...more
Fran
Mar 24, 2008 Fran rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love emotional stories
I don't know why I bought this book, or even if I bought it (or it could have been in a pack of books I bought cheap). It's been on my bookshelf for more than a few months now and in my attempt to read most of the books I have before buying new ones I picked it up. When I read the quote from the Chicago Tribune on the back "no one who opens The Cloud Sketcher will find it easy to stop reading before the last vertiginous page" I worried that the book would be a little too pretentious for me. I me...more
Amritha
A beautiful book, wonder why I never heard about this one anywhere, there is hardly anything on the net, just found a vague interview of the author in a random website that too after a hell lot of searching. I found the book in a filthy second hand book outlet, took it only because it was the only non-pirated book! Strongly recommend it, take a walk through the cool lakes in summers in remote Finnish villages, let architecture come alive like a love affair, see bloodshed, good old passionate lov...more
Simon
The Last book of the trip that I read most of on
the way home was "The Cloud Sketcher" by Richard
Rayner that I pulled of a book shelf at home
before we went away looked at and had no real
memory of getting it, but liked the blurb on the
back and put it in the bag.
Well I can't remember the last 500 page book I
read as quickly as this one. It's a total page
turner of a life and death story of Esko a
Little Finnish boy who grew up dreaming of
building a Cloud Sketcher, which is what the
Finnish wo...more
Tamara Gantt
I'm on about the fourth chapter and loving this book. Rich characters, unique subjects.

Okay --- I have been thinking about this all morning. How to say how amazing and beautiful this book is --- how well-written, rich, full of depth and variety and skillful use of language and characterization. It isn't getting any easier.

One way that I can attempt it is to make a comparison. I've recently read a nice little Southern book about a more-or-less orphaned girl who goes to live with a rich aunt in Sa...more
Joshua
Greatly enjoyed this novel by Richard Rayner that has a few favorite topics of mine weaving through its epic story of romance--architecture, revolution, civil war, Finland, the mafia, prohibition, more architecture and the 1920s. Set in Finland and New York in the range of 1917 to about 1929 with Rayner packing a lot of action and story in this short span of time--almost too much to be honest. Toward the end with the characters talking about all the time that has passed and it's only been a deca...more
Marilyn Saul
This was a wonderful book, though I got quite annoyed (frequently) with Esko's ridiculous obsession with a most unworthy woman! I learned a lot about architecture and found myself wishing this was not a novel but biographical, so I could go visit the buildings! I also learned about Finland during the Russian Revolution, and I'm amazed at how little I knew about the situation. Excellent writing. I highly recommend this book.
Marvin
A gripping, emotionally intense, & intellectually powerful novel. A young boy of 11 becomes obsessed with a Russian girl & with a desire to build a skyscraper. The rest of the novel plays out his pursuit of those twin dreams & the many barriers that stand in the way of achieving them, from a Finnish Civil War in the wake of the Russian Revolution to political machinations in the awarding of architectural contracts to Prohibition. As with other books (such as Dr. Zhivago, which this b...more
Bjorn
Jun 16, 2007 Bjorn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in architecture
Shelves: katrina-lost, college
I had to read this book before I spent a summer semester in Finland. It is about a Finnish Architect and his quest for beauty. I didn't like The Fountainhead when i read it (maybe will give it another chance) so i was really not sure if this would be good. When he describes the church he is building the prose is beautiful and you can just see the church take shape.

I really did enjoy this book and really got into reading it on the plane to Helsinki. It was done in no time after getting into it. O...more
Kathleen Hulser
Tortured architect hero, at his best in lonely youth of frigid Finland forests. Can surfeit of tree trunks and ice chunks give life form? Yup. Great background of border tensions with Russian Revolution, Stalin makes an appearance, and partisan fighting where nationalism, communism mix it up with no clear good guy/bad guy right and left are interesting for those of us (all of us?) who don't know the issues of Finnish independence around WWI. A murder mystery runs through it and a love story, but...more
krin
This was a great book of historical fiction set in Finland in the early 1900s and New York City during the jazz age of the 1920s. Reading it, I could almost hear the music playing and the men working on the steel girders of the growing skyscrapers. The characters also came to life with their hopes and fears.
Freya
It's a slow start but bear with it...once it gets going, it will capture your attention. Politics, idealism, love, passion, hope, uglienss all merge together in a story of a man who uniquely discovers and creates the world around him even as it changes through war, loss and possibility.
Susan
I would not have chosen this book from the jacket description, but a friend loaned it to me & I'm so glad she did. While parts of the story were quite predictable like the reappearance of the love interest, there were so many good things about it, I would highly recommend.
Bob Woodley
1920s. Esko fights the Bolsheviks in Finland before fleeing to the USA to be a skyscraper architect. 2 stories fused together with little to link them. Well sketched characters, except for the principal love interest. Historical color. Good pace. Easy to read. An airplane read.
Anastasia
very moving... even though it was a big book and a lil bit hard to finish it, the plot was always twisting. another plus for me is that the author described each scene with every little detail. really fascinating
Darcey
Started slow but got really good after the first section. Interesting characters and historical look at New York in the 1920s especially.
Romi
Put it down about 50% of the way through..and that is really saying something. Just can't get through this one at all!
Annelie Rozeboom
Good writing, but kind of depressing. It's an anything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong kind of book.
Tami Roof
Jan 23, 2008 Tami Roof rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sylvie
Recommended to Tami by: Jennie Barlow
This is a GREAT book!!! Sylvie, if you haven't read this one yet you should; I know you would love it.
Stephanie
Nov 09, 2007 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any Romantic
A time period and setting that I love---NY in early 1900's. Prose is elegant and story is beautiful.
Tamara Lohan
enjoyed this book alot,it had alot of things going on it.
Caroline
GOD AWFUL. Couldn't finish it.
Elijoh
Aug 14, 2007 Elijoh marked it as to-read
heard it was historical fiction
Karen
Karen marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2014
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Richard Rayner is a British author who now lives in Los Angeles. He was born on December 15, 1955 in the northern city of Bradford. Rayner attended schools in Yorkshire and Wales before studying philosophy and law at the University of Cambridge. He has worked as an editor at Time Out Magazine, in London, and later on the literary magazine Granta, then based in Cambridge.

Rayner is the author of ni...more
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“He saw a cross on a wall with another cross behind it, a shadow cross, the shadow of what God left behind when God was gone, the continued need for joy and beauty, a commitment to hope where there appeared to be none, and to grace in spite of everything.” 3 likes
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