The Clouds Beneath the Sun: A Novel
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The Clouds Beneath the Sun: A Novel

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  86 reviews
An exotic setting and a passionate, forbidden affair make The Clouds Beneath the Sun an irresistible page-turner that is sure to satisfy readers looking for an intelligent blend of history, romance, and intrigue.

Mackenzie Ford (a nom de plume) was introduced to readers in 2009 with the publication of Gifts of War, which was praised in USA Today as “an absorbing, morally c...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Nan A. Talese (first published November 1st 2009)
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Until I read the last two or three chapters, this book was going to earn a shaky 3-star rating from me. Unfortunately, the melodramatic, soap opera ending dropped that down a star, all the more disappointing to me because I thought the book had great potential.

A freshly-minted archaeologist, Natalie Nelson, is on her first dig in 1961 Kenya, digging on the land traditionally owned by the Masai people. The country is on the verge of gaining its independence. Two of the archaeologists do something...more
1. Masai drivers don't speak that way in English.
2. Any editor worth his/her salt would have purged all those damn/unnecessary slash marks
3. Can an author telegraph with any more transparent cheesiness that the rough and ready bush pilot male protagonist (why are they always named Jack?) wants to get in the central female's pants than by feeding him the line, "You have an aura of self-containment about you."
4. I don't need a parenthetical explanation IN DIALOGUE of what an ungulate is. Like a sc...more
Oh dear, this was so disappointing! The premise was so good - on the verge of Kenyan independence, the claustrophobic environment of a dig in the middle of Masai burial grounds, an attractive young female doctor in the middle - but it just didn't deliver at all. I'm assuming Mackenzie Ford is a man - well, whatever, he certainly didn't get inside the head or heart of Natalie. The prose is stilted and slow - coversations turn into lessons on Kenyan culture and history and I really didn't feel I'd...more
You know, I think until the last chapter of this book I was almost considering giving it 5 stars, and after the last chapter I was going to downgrade it to 2, such was the difference the last chapter made in how I felt about it. Against my better judgement I'm going to split the difference even though the final chapter really ruined my over-all impression of the book. I don't know how your tagline can be 'Love-whatever the cost' and end it the way it ended.

Ignoring the final chapter, there was l...more
Mary Beth
What I loved about this book was the excellent view of Kenya/Tanzania during a certain time in history. The author had great descriptions of life on an archaeological dig site in the African bush - clearly he was writing from his own experience as an archaelogist. That part was fascinating, and I really felt like I got a good picture of the land and the Maasai culture. Having spent a very little time in Africa, I really enjoyed this aspect. However, the book was ultimately overdone, WAY too long...more
kristen andrews
Set in the early 1960's, The Clouds Beneath the Sun revolves around Natalie Nelson, a freshly minted Ph. D. Suffering the loss of her mother, rejection of her father, and the breakup of her married boyfriend, Dr. Natalie Nelson heads to Africa to join an archaeological team digging in a Kenyan gorge. This digging season proves to be the most intense the experienced team has ever had. Two team members raid the ancient bural grounds of the local Massai tribe in order to have modern bones for compa...more
Tara Chevrestt
I had to skim to make it thru this. It had a decent start, introducing us to Natalie, a young woman beginning in the archeology world, suffering a broken heart (of which we heard WAY TOO MUCH ABOUT) and dealing with grief over her recently deceased mother. She goes to join a dig in Africa and we meet some not all that likeable characters. Russel, a Californian Aussie that immediately falls in love with Natalie. Eleanor, an incredibly bossy, prying, controlling know it all. Christopher, the know...more
Jun 12, 2010 S rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I must thank Goodreads and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for allowing me to preview this book!

Unfortunately, this book fell a bit short of the bill. It's a pity because, as in the summary, we have an exciting premises here.

The amount of repetition, especially whenever the heroine was being nostalgic, just gets old after a while. The reader doesn't need to be reminded every chapter or so just what issues she has. And each rumination doesn't need to be written like it's the first time she's th...more
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Mackenzie Ford is the pen name of the author, Peter Watson who is a historian and research associate at McDonald Institute for Archaeolgy. When I read this information in the back of the book; it all became clear to me. While there was an interesting story developing regarding the murder of one of the archeaoligist on a big dig in a gorge in Kenya, Africa; the book was way too heavy in details. I feel that the author wrote more from the historian point of view than from a novelists.

There were se...more
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I have to say I agree with all the 1 and 2 stars. This book started out as a 5 star and quickly kept diminishing. The last chapter, as one reviewer put it, made it (for me) a negative star. Bad, bad, no point writing. Like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas--I ask you, why bother? Stilted characters inlcuding evil (in Christopher) that is hard to believe and left flat except for obnoxious behaviors, vengeance and unreasonableness in Russel that was painful to read (it was too sharp and extreme--n...more
You can find quite an interesting group of people at an archaeological dig in Kenya in 1961. This is where Natalie Nelson finds herself as part of a remote dig site in the Serengeti. Things are going great until the team runs into grave robbing and murder that Natalie becomes a key witness of. But of course, that is not all. Natalie finds herself in a battle between two brothers - a competition that had been around for their entire lives.

I don't think anything I say can really do justice to this...more
Romance, murder and archeology in the wonderful setting of an excavation in Kenya as well as beautiful

descriptions and well-developed characters.This book is wonderfully written by Mackenzie Ford, nom the plume of Peter Watson ,a respected historian whose vast knowledge is clearly shown in the novel.

The plot may be considered slightly old-fashioned (in a good way most of the times) but it was certainly a welcome change for me after so many dystopian novels. However, I didn't expect the book to e...more
I became fairly enthralled with this book when I reached about the second or third chapter. I felt that the author did a very good job of developing the characters: revealing just enough of what motivated them in order to lend them depth, while allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions about the rightness of each character's actions. I also was intrigued by the use of 1961 Kenya as the setting, which created a very politically charged backdrop for the overall mystery within the book....more
Fantastic tale of archeologists at Kenya dig: politics- academic, racial and social, adventure/danger, and romance, something for everyone! I was caught up in this story from to finish, though I could see the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to this novel a kilometer away. My only other note is that there is a particular phrase running through character Natalie's musings that was odd the first time I read it and ridiculous with subsequent encounter (send me a note if it bothers you!).
I really liked the vivid imagery of landscape and wildlife that brought Kenya to life for me and life on an archaeological dig was informative and interesting so half way through the book I was thinking towards a four-star rating. Sadly the story, especially the romantic aspect, gradually diminished those glowing stars until they barely glimmered at a tentative 3. Too incredulous and predictable, only the wonderful glimpse of Africa halted the fall of yet another star, such a shame.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
An archeologist excavation in Kenya filled with brilliant paleontologists is the setting of the book…the characters' work, cultural differences, and inter-personal relationships encompasses the main plot. In the first few pages the main character, Natalie Nelson, is on her way from Cambridge University to the camp, and she comes across a herd of elephants actually carrying out a mourning ritual...her first glimpse of the mesmerizing sights and sounds of Africa. The descriptions of the wildlife i...more
I couldn't put this book down! The descriptions of Africa were entrancing, the characters were intriguing and the storyline kept me guessing. I read until very late at night, not even looking at the clock - just wrapped up in the book.

This is a wonderful mystery novel that utilizes the beauty that is Africa as a setting for a wondrous paleontological dig amongst the Maasai tribe lands. All I knew about the Maasai I learned from the movies, which is to say, inaccurate. I enjoyed reading more abou...more
What I enjoyed the most about Mackenzie Ford's novel Gifts of War was the moral question that was at the heart of the novel. In his new to us but published in the U.K. prior to Gifts novel, The Clouds Beneath The Sun there is also a morality issue at the center of the story. This isn't a simple choice of do the right thing or profit by the evil path. Ford has made everything more complex and dangerous. There is a clear right and a wrong but the potential aftermath of either choice and how the ch...more
Natalie Nelson, freshly armed with a PhD and a host of emotional baggage over the death of her mother, the estrangement from her father, and a failed romantic relationship, arrives in Kenya in 1961 to join an archaeological dig. She hasn't been there very long before some amazing discoveries are made, which leads to controversy after two co-workers raid a Maasai burial ground for bones to compare with those found in the gorge. One of those co-workers is subsequently found murdered, with someone...more
I really enjoyed reading this book; it has everything, mystery, political unrest,romance, adventure, a strong sense of place, moral dilemma, interesting characters. The setting is in Kenya, in the early 1960's, where an archaeological excavation over several years time has uncovered human remains that will change the theories of human evolution, and the entire field of paleontology. I suspected while reading, and my later research confirmed, that this is a fictionalized accounting of the finding...more
Truthfully I don't want to give this book two stars. I would like to be able to give it three, but it's not possible. And as you'll see, even this kind of rating probably springs more from my fondness than the book's actual value.

I like the idea of a young archaeologist escaping her native England to a dig in almost-independent Kenya after a failed relationship to a married man and her mother's mysterious death. But the execution of the story is sloppy and reads more like a manuscript than somet...more
I was very pleased to receive this uncorrected proof copy as a First-Reads give away.
There were many historical aspects of this novel I enjoyed and found to be intriguing --Kenya in the early 60's, the role of the British Empire, archeological digs in Africa, the society of the Masai and their relationships with the characters. The author's vivid descriptions of the Serengeti and Nairobi made me feel as if he had experienced these locations himself.
But the story seemed to drag and lose focus in...more
disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through goodreads first reads contest.

This book was a very enjoyable read. Fascinating imagery of Africa and lots of information about the discoveries made there about early man. The story had a lot of potential, but I am left wanting at the mysteries left to us. I felt the story dragged on longer than was necessary, and as a reader I was subjected to long stretches of nothing happening and the story not advancing, interspersed with very i...more
Nancy Black
Jun 10, 2010 Nancy Black rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoysw reading about Africa and the native wildlife.
Received this book today 5/20/2010 through Goodreads!! I'm getting ready to start this!!

Interesting novel. I was caught up in the intrigue & motivations of the characters.

Disclaimer: A lot of misspelled words in this novel.

Sadness at the fate of Natalie and Jack. There are so many things going on in this story

The African scenery, the flora and fauna ring true to life. History, the back breaking work of the archaeologists.

Murder, political intrigue, natives tribes, plus the melting pot of jea...more
This was a very exciting and moving read. I won this book on Goodread's First Reads Giveaways and it was an uncorrected proof that I received which contained many errors which I hope will be corrected by the time it is published. The errors, however, did not stop my enjoyment of this novel. Many sincere thanks to Doubleday for providing this Advance Reading Copy due to be published on or about 7/27/10.

This is a story about a young English woman, trained as an archaeologist at Cambridge Universit...more
This is an advanced copy from Book Browse.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It took me to a place with vivid imagery. It was educational and I feel like I know more about the 1960s in the political Kenyan setting, more about the beautiful landscape and wild animals of Africa, more about an excavating working archaeological team, more about tribal laws vs. written laws. The story itself was secondary to all the other characteristics mentioned above. Waiting for the trial throughout over half of the...more
Loved it. Fascinating story about a slightly naive scientist who goes off to Africa on an archeology dig. I felt like the book stretched my horizons, I'd never read anything about this part of science and Africa. The characters were all very real and very human, with strenghts and weaknesses. The moral and ethical questions raised were intriguing.

There were some flaws but not enough to deter from my enjoyment. I do have a bone to pick about the ending: I felt like the book had gone on and on an...more
Nicole Romine
When I first started The Clouds Beneath the Sun, I was engaged my the plot – following a plucky, intelligent woman on her first archaeological dig as she encounters a murder mystery and the impending social upheaval of Kenya’s independence from Britain.

Although I enjoyed the author’s vivid descriptions of the dig and of Kenya’s stark beauty, I was overall disappointed by the melodramatic and sometimes preachy plot. I was especially disappointed in the ending, as it felt emotionally insincere. M...more
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