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Natural Flights of the Human Mind: A Novel Paperback – June 13, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060843365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060843366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,944,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grappling with larger-than-life issues of guilt, redemption and forgiveness, Morrall showcases the kind of quirky characters and improbable plotting that made her debut, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, a finalist for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize. Is a 50-something hermit, Peter Straker, responsible for the deaths of 78 people a quarter-century ago, when he crashed his small plane into a moving passenger train? The coroner ruled the crash an accident, but the details are hazy in Peter's memory, part of his former life as a drunken playboy. Eaten by guilt, Peter doesn't speak except to the 78 victims, who now live in his head: "There isn't room in his mind for anyone else." For two years, he has corresponded with the passengers' families under false pretenses, fueling his own guilt and inciting the families to seek him out for revenge. When morose, embittered Imogen Doody, a 40-ish school caretaker and writer, inherits a dilapidated cottage near the decommissioned lighthouse where Peter lives, Peter begins a tentative engagement with the world of the living, pursuing an unlikely relationship with her. Morrall is a deft guide through the landscape of grief, but her artistic prose can distance readers from her characters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Booker Prize finalist Clare Morrall invites the reader to the Devon coast and into the company of Peter Straker, living in a former working lighthouse, and Imogen Doody, a school caretaker living in a run-down cottage she has inherited in a nearby village. Both Straker and Doody are misfits in their own right. Haunted by their respective pasts and each hiding something, both struggle to come to terms with the tragic events that changed their lives some 24 years ago. Did Straker really kill 78 people? And what is it about seeing a biplane take to the air? Did he once have a pilot's license? Morrall places the reader alone with Straker and Doody, alone with the wind and the sea. Guilt, death, and the impact of premature death on families and friends are at the core of this novel. Straker and Doody's relationship is initially uncomplicated; then it all changes. Readers will remember them painting in silence, the tension of their conversations as it begins to dissipate, and the increasing ease of their presence. Sarah Watstein
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Peter Straker lives alone in a lighthouse on the Devon coast. But his mind is full of the voices of 78 people who died in a train wreck almost 25 years ago. Peter feels responsible; he is sure he caused their deaths but isn't certain how. In the lighthouse, as the coast tears away at the shore, he hears their voices, accusations and sometimes even their kindness. Peter lives like a hermit, going to town only for food and supplies and talking to no one. But the arrival of Imogen Doody forces him out of his exile and back into the world of the living.

Clare Morrall's sophomore effort, following ASTONISHING SPLASHES OF COLOUR (a Booker Prize finalist) centers on Peter and Imogen as they navigate a tenuous and emotional relationship that makes each deal with their tragic past and their hopes for the future.

Imogen, or "Doody," is a school caretaker, an angry woman with no friends and a strained relationship with her family. She discovers she has inherited a cottage on the Devon coast from a godfather she never knew. The cottage is a dream come true, a place to be alone with her thoughts and perhaps even finish the novel she half-heartedly has been working on. But the cottage is also a disaster, abandoned and decrepit, and she has neither the money nor the know-how to fix it up. It is her activity in the cottage that attracts Peter, and he talks with his first living person in years when he meets Doody. Her anger flashes again and again and he retreats to his lighthouse again and again, but they eventually come to something of a truce and begin to work on the cottage together.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
After reading Clare Morrall's 'Astonishing Splashes of Colour', which was fantastic, I was thrilled to see this second novel published so soon. I will not review the story line of 'Natural Flights'; you can read a great report already submitted by reviewer [..]on this Amazon site. I will simply say that Clare Morral wrote 4 unpublished novels before these two were published. Someone needs to take a serious look at the others and see if they warrant publication, too. Ms Morrall is a gifted writer and I'd like to thank her for her amazing perseverance. I eagerly await her next book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Dary on March 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
A bit difficult to write about this clever, quietly gripping story without being tempted to give something away. Every time I had to put it down, I eagerly looked forward to getting back to it, and was sorry when it ended.
The author has several seemingly disparate things going on and handles them very cleverly. That's all I'll say except that you should read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BP on February 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although the novel deals with tragedy, hurting, and loneliness, it is told in a fluent, smooth manner, with the language never getting too heavy or depressing. The characters are unbelievably real, they feel like your next door neighbors rather than fictional personalities. Worth reading.
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