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And Clouds Passed Above
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Archive: Other Books > And the Clouds Passed Above by Thomas Van der Hof - 3 stars

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Joy D | 3875 comments And Clouds Passed Above by Thomas Van der Hof - 3 stars

This book is, on the surface, a story of a young man, Jaan, that has lost his mother at an early age and has been raised by his uncle. His grandfather has maintained contact through letters and gifts. When Jaan turns eighteen, his grandfather sends him a final gift and asks him to journey to a remote island. It is an allegory about a young man’s journey to discover his identity. He benefits from mentorship along the way and attempts to find his internal compass. He encounters good and evil. He learns from his experiences. Jaan follows “the road less traveled” but wonders about the paths not taken. It is a story of decisions and ramifications, the difference between youth and age, and the journeys we make in life.

Overall, I liked it but also had several issues with it. This book has a fable-like quality about it. It exudes a quiet beauty and takes a bit of patience and reflection to read it. It is not fast-paced nor does it contain a significant amount of action. It contains beautifully descriptive language, probably a bit too much, and occasionally comes across a bit stilted and disjointed. Its message is indirect and will not be to everyone’s taste. If you enjoy lots of descriptive prose, magical realism, or books that offer deeper meanings, open to the reader’s individual interpretation, you may enjoy this book.

I received an advanced reader’s copy via NetGalley in return for a candid review.

Link to my GR review:

message 2: by AsimovsZeroth (new)

AsimovsZeroth (asimovszerothlaw) | 436 comments Hmm. Your description does make me think I might enjoy this, but I'm torn. How bad is the amount of descriptive language? I've loved many a book that had little to recommend it save for beautiful descriptions, but there is certainly a fine line. At a certain point it can just be overly pretentious.

Joy D | 3875 comments There is a ton of descriptive language, but oddly, it somehow fits the mood and tone of the book. It has a dream-like quality to it. I wouldn't call it pretentious. It's almost like an elder telling a story to a younger person about finding his path in life, about the meaning of it all. I think the author is somewhat inexperienced, and is not expressing himself succinctly. Perhaps this was intentional? I'm not sure, but I thought it could have been an amazingly profound novel with the right editor. I enjoyed it but thought it will take a discerning reader who is not in a hurry to fully enjoy it.

Here's a sample of the descriptive passages:
"While behind them the islands rose like stone giants, with steep white slopes that were speckled with stubborn green, and suspended on their faces were the tiny white forms of goats who bounded and raced along these places, as if unaware of all that lay below. Standing apart among the gentle waves rose rocky minarets, their summits sharp and jagged like teeth in the mouth of a great monster that slumbered just below the waves. And the water's pale blue caught the reflections of all, to hint at still other ghostly places that fell away beneath."

Here's a passage that shows the writing style:
"His father later found him, and they went to an empty section of the cemetery, which was where his father's place would someday be. And why, asked the boy, as he softly cried, would his father not also be just a name on these tones, with nothing that was special remaining, to be remembered. He asked was there not something we leave behind, that lasts beyond us? The father was quiet, until gently he touched the boy's head. And the boy then understood. That it was him, and the father that he would one day be, and his own son, that was the answer to his question."


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