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Natural Flights of the Human Mind

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Peter Straker lives in a converted lighthouse on the Devon coast with a fine view of the sea, two cats, and no neighbors. That's just the way he likes it. He speaks to no one except in his dreams, where he converses with some of the seventy-eight people he believes he killed nearly a quarter-century earlier -- though he can't quite remember how it happened. But Straker's c ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  422 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Dale Harcombe
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars
To begin with I wasn’t a hundred percent convinced I would read this book, but then things start to click and the story drew me in. The two main characters are Peter Straker and Imogen Doody. Peter lives in an out of operation lighthouse that is getting close to falling down. His dreams are troubled by the 78 people he believes he killed 24 years earlier. He refuses to talk to people in the village and they regard him with the utmost suspicion. That starts to change when Imo
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hardback

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

Sandra Danby
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I’ve been having something of a Clare Morrall fest, that thing you get when you discover an author and wish they’d written more. The worst thing is when you get that feeling but the author is dead. Thankfully Clare Morrall is alive and writing, and I have two more novels to read – The Roundabout Man, and The Language of Others.
Natural Flights of the Human Mind is an original story about two outsiders who are brought together by circumstance and who, unknowingly, help each other to come to terms
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like unexpected friendships
What if you were responsible for taking away the lives of 78 people? And what about the lives of the people they left behind?

These are just some questions tackled in the book. It's a story about redemption, forgiveness, and the unlikely people you meet that help you bring back together the pieces of your life.

This book was a pleasant surprise for me, considering I only bought this book because it was really really cheap, and I bought it so I wouldn't be embarrassed at not buying a book in a bo
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
What a jam-packed book! Though plot-driven, it starts off slow (not a complaint), leisurely, taking its time to spin out the story, gradually revealing its secrets, and I enjoyed the ride. Once I got close to the end, I couldn't put the book down. There are quite a few coincidences within the plot, but nothing that took away from the satisfying story.

Also full of well-drawn characters -- a main character did seem way too obtuse and unfeeling at a couple of crucial times, but that's a minor quibb
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like this writer a lot. Her writing is crisp and compassionate, her stories- unusual and engaging. "Natural Flights" didn`t disappoint either. Morrall brings together two strong and vivid characters and makes us observe with interest their strange way of communicating and interacting. Her narration flows with ease. She manages to sustain a hidden psychological dynamics which makes the novel a page-turner. The very ending seemed a bit weak, events somehow were rushed to a conclusion
but neverthe
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After reading Clare Morrall's Astonishing Splashes of Colour I wanted to see if another book she had written could be as good if not better. When I first started this book I felt a bit lost, but it didn't take long for that to change. I became completely engrossed in the lives of Straker and Doody and the complicated feelings, thoughts and of their minds. We never really know a persons thoughts or thought process. I enjoyed taking the journey through the lives of Straker and Doody. Thank you Cla ...more
Nick Davies
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
During lockdown, I have not read as much as I usually do. This is because of the absence of a dedicated time of day (namely, my 2-3hr train commute) in which I would generally read 100+ pages a day. I've not found a part of my 'working from home' routine in which to read.

I hence picked this up hoping that - like 'Astonishing Splashes of Colour' and 'The Man Who Disappeared' - I would enjoy something by an author I'd previously liked, would get drawn in to it, and would rediscover momentum. Alas
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Peter Straker lives in self-imposed exile in a lighthouse on the Devon coast. Living with him are his two cats Suleiman and Magnificent and 78 voices. The 78 voices exist in Peter's head and clamour to tell their stories and news. They are the voices (aren't they?) of the people he believes himself responsible for killing in a poorly-remembered train versus plane crash of which he was the pilot. Peter spends his days with the voices and a series of obsessive compulsive strategies he emplys to re ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think I may have found a new lady novelist to add to my shelves. This book is delightful to read, full of hope without sentimentality, and deft (not daft) in its wielding of symbolic landscape and symbolic objects. The protagonists are two lonely people; Peter Straker, who lives in a lighthouse, and Imogen Doody, a school caretaker who inherits a cottage nearby. Straker has a horrible incident in his past, which is revealed to us in just the right doses; Doody (as she calls herself) also has t ...more
Grace Harwood
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed reading this compelling story of a man who lives alone in a lighthouse, on the edges of society, unable to forgive himself for an accident he may or may not have caused. The story is so skilfully related, with each character's history being revealed in glimpses to the reader. The writing is so perceptive - a man who finds himself invisible in a world that doesn't listen surrounded by the too quick judgement of others that he somehow isn't important enough to matter. Of course, to th ...more
May 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Usually I know since the beginning if I like or dislike the plot in a particular book. In this case, it was different. Very slow beginning, which even made me think to stop reading, but then I came to the page 100 and the plot turned to be amazing. Very well written story in which the concept of guilt not only makes you think, but also puts you into the position what would you do if...
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Started of quite slow, but after 1/3 of the book I couldn't stop reading. Nice ending, gives room for own imagination. Loved the characters and the story.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting. I found the characters somewhat confusing and the chop and change style of the story was sometimes hard to keep up with.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and will probably read it again soon. I can never read a book without many interruptions and lose track sometimes and the second time around is better. Truly an unusual story and I will check out her other books.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Second time of reading this. Just as good. She has such variety of plots.
Marilyn Saul
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The story is about a self-imposed-guilt-ridden man who hides himself away in a lighthouse for 25 years and attempts to connect with the families of 78 people he killed in his reckless youth. A typical silver-spoon kid, wealthy parents (off whom he continues to live in his lighthouse), he is so racked with guilt that it became tedious (and as an ex-Catholic, I know about guilt). But just when you can't stand it anymore, the author starts unweaving the circumstances that led to his downfall, and o ...more
Sue Lang
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I found it on our book shelf and after much discussion as to who had bought it, from my daughter, my husband and myself, i read it. I was not disappointed did not know what to expect. It follows the ives of tow characters that become entwined in various ways and the history to how they have ended up in the environmant and situations they are in. There are some moving scenes especially near the end of the story. I found it made me think about how people are treated because of t ...more
Anna Tatelman
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Love this author. Love her elegant and beautiful prose, love her memorable characters, love the way she can turn a book with not much actual plot into something rich and engaging.

I do feel that some of the 'reflective' internal monologues got a little repetitive, but I'm not going to mark her down for this. One, it certainly captured the character's inability to get out of his rut, and two, it's still a stellar read.
Lauren Stringer
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-books
This is one of the most astonishing and complex, yet very readable books dealing with grief, guilt, and shame I have ever read. Set mostly on the coast of Devon with the main character living/hiding in an old light house-- that is just about to fall into the sea while at the same time a unique friendship grows around the renewal of an abandoned cottage-- so much is about loss and gain. My favorite read of the year so far and I have read some amazing books lately!
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the second book I've read from this author and I really enjoyed it. This was the story of a man, haunted by an accident he was involved in 24 years earlier that he's not convinced is an accident. It's also the story of a woman whose husband disappeared shortly after they were married and the scars that have not healed.
A good book with a good story and very involving.
May 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing character study of two deeply flawed and prickly people who are lucky enough to find someone equally extreme, but in a complementary way. Also a thoughtful meditation on the many reactions to tragedy, and the limits of "blame" in the face of great loss.

I picked this up blind from the library, based on the back cover blurb, and was delighted.
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favourites
I found this book in The Works sale and bought it for about 20 pence; it was very unjust that it found itself in this unfortunate predicament. The book was very unusual and the characters were compelling, despite their being misfits in society. The author explored their feelings and thoughts with great sensitivity and insight, making this a very memorable read.
Filippa Magro
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book because I had nothing to read, but it ended up being a really good book.

I like the fact that it's a friendship between people who seem completely opposite from each other. Both people seem to be struggling with their own problems but when they meet a friendship blossoms.

this is a book which struggles with a persons problems and how one strives for forgiveness.
An inter­est­ing book. Mor­rall has cre­ated two great char­ac­ters to place next to each other and inter­act. Present and past are inter­wo­ven through­out the story and that works well to get the total pic­ture. In some places I would have liked a bit more pace and in other places a bit more depth, but oth­er­wise a good read.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an engaging story about two broken people who are brought together and are healed by their interactions. Something to think about when considering the people in your life. If you have a tendency to skip to the back of the book, listen on audio instead. Definitely worth the suspense.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I listened to this while driving, and was completely enthralled. She takes these unsympathetic characters who are loners and unhappy people, and makes them understandable and human. A unique story line, part mystery.
Shelagh Symonds
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this book but I did find myself thinking it was not real.These two people so wrong for each other to somehow forge a bond despite their obvious own personal hang ups.
Good yarn though and I loved the that the story involved the old aircraft aspect.
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
An interesting tale of dealing with repercussions of life and seemingly random meetings.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, favorites
i really liked this book... about an eccentric man who was involved in a train crash that killed 78 people. he meets a woman named imogen, and they help each other get over their pasts.
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Man Booker Prize shortlisted Clare Morrall shot to fame in a true to life rags-to-riches story when her novel ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ and her tiny, unknown publisher became front page news after the shortlisting. Later novels have featured on TV Book Club, Front Row and Woman’s Hour on Radio Four and Radio Three, along with the sale of film and foreign rights. She has been awarded an hono ...more

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