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The Clouds Beneath the Sun by Mackenzie Ford

The Clouds Beneath the Sun

by Mackenzie Ford

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  • Published:
  • Jul 2010
    464 pages
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There are currently 23 member reviews
for The Clouds Beneath the Sun
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  • Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)
    worthy, not perfect
    This is a flawed but fascinating story of a group of paleontologists in Kenya in 1961. I loved the African setting, the inclusion of the Masai, and the sexual jealousies and competition between the scientists. The biggest problem in the novel is pacing. There are periods of extreme tension and excitement and then periods of dull almost repetitive exposition. Then there's the end which has more drama than necessary...however it passed the number one test for any book... I couldn't put it down. Would make a great movie.
  • Froma F. (Boulder, CO)
    Good but not great
    An engaging but not compelling book, I enjoyed but didn’t adore The Clouds Beneath the Sun. Written from the perspective of an outsider, one gains an outsider’s knowledge about Kenya on the verge of independence, the Maori people, and even the archeology that is at the heart of the story. I never felt that I inhabited the world described.

    Although the story is set in 1961, the reminders of what was happening politically in the world at that time felt contrived - inserted into the story rather than an intrinsic part of it. I felt that I was told too much about the characters rather than being allowed to discover who they were and minor characters were undeveloped. The setting was beautiful and I would love to visit many of the places described. At over 450 pages, I also felt that the book could have used some editing. Still, these are quibbles. The plot was good, the writing flowed smoothly and it was a pleasant if not exciting read. A good but not an excellent book.
  • Chris G. (New Albany, Ohio)
    The Clouds Beneath the Sun
    It's 1961 and we are in Kenya. Dr. Natalie Nelson has just arrived on an airstrip in the midst of the Serengeti to join an excavation team to begin the dig of her dreams. As an archeologist she is excited by the prospects but she is also taking the opportunity to flee dealing with the memories and pain of past trauma.

    Little does she know she has stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Kenya is beginning its journey to independence, a controversy and a murder has turned up involving the local Masai people and the leader of the dig, Eleanor Deacon is watching an irreparable schism grow between her sons. And then there is Natalie's growing attraction to Jack that goes from passionate affair to turmoil when she is forced to present evidence in a trial that very well could lead to a rebellion.

    The social upheaval of the times and the tribal customs of the Masai are well presented as are many of the dig protocols. I found the methodical pace to be daunting at times, but I suppose the pace echoes the care and slowness carried out on a dig. But one hopes for a little more speed in the delivery when dealing with murder as opposed to a procedural. All in all a good book but I am a bit undecided as to whether I would go for a second book by this author.
  • Alice W. (Sacramento, CA)
    Clouds Beneath the Sun
    I chose this book because I have Masaai friends and have lived in a Masaai Village.

    I found the descriptions of Kenya close to those in my memories. However the Masaai were not described as I think of them...of course, the story was set at pre-independence and I was there two years ago.

    The story was relatively interesting, however the writer's methods were annoying to me. It seemed that he was writing a soap opera...as he periodically would inject a series of questions all lined up in a row such as: will she tell him the entire truth, when will the Land Rover arrive, who will come to the trial? What? This over and over as though we might put the book down at that point and return tomorrow , same time, same station and resume reading the story. This was definitely an odd writing technique.

    I also tired of reading about the perspiration between Natalie's breasts. I wanted to float her a handkerchief to deal with the problem as it seemed to plague her no matter what the incident...that along with her hands going to her throat, or her recurring bouts with inner rage. Oh please...

    The plot? well...pretty predictable except at the end.

    Did I enjoy it...? Sort of...I didn't push aside other things in my life to get back to the book and read.
  • Mary Lou C. (Shenandoah Junction, WV)
    Disappointing
    This is the second book I've read by this author. I really hoped this one would be better. The author may be a well known and respected historian, but I think he should stick with writing non-fiction. His lame attempts at romance only cheapen the story for me. I found the background and location interesting, but the characters disappointed me.
  • Wendy E. (Mechanicsville, VA)
    The Clouds Beneath the Sun
    This book started with such potential – Natalie has been invited to an archeological dig in Africa shortly after getting her PhD. This is the clean break she is looking for as she mourns the death of her mother and the rejection by her lover. The bits about the roaming herds, the discoveries in the dig, and the descriptions of the politics are all interesting, but the book lags with the overly done descriptions of Natalie’s struggles to maintain her reserve in the small group of scientists. We read again and again about her grief, her reluctance to enter into a new relationship, her distrust of her colleagues’ intentions and her various accidents, all of which she is able to miraculously recover from. I wanted to like the characters, but overall, I couldn’t truly embrace them or their trials. The ending was a bit too pat and anticlimactic.
  • Georgette I. (Oxford, GA)
    The Clouds Beneath The Sun
    A good, semi challenging summer read. Set in Kenya, it offers a colorful look at the flora and fauna as well as the backdrop to the political machinations prior to independence. It is underscored by a murder mystery that leaves the reader morally ambivalent. The female lead in the novel leaves this female reader cold perhaps because the author is male and doesn't adequately express the complexities of her heart and mind.

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