At the far end of the long white gallery is a painting of woman, in pale flowing clothes and lying on a sofa beside an open window. The muslin curtains billow out towards her like clouds. There is a touch of brilliant red, the ribbon on her hat. The rest is the white, cream, palest grey. It is a painting which leads Flora on, beckoning her away from her childhood, her complaining, clinging mother, pert younger sister, and the confines of a small community, to a proud and self-reliant future. But later, its image is to prove the catalyst for the most significant event in her life.
Isolation, separation, solitude, betrayal. The shocks of life. The consolations and the beauty of death. A few piercing moments of absolute joy and perfect understanding. The Service of Clouds is about these things, and also about love, loyalty, friendship, growing up, and growing old.
©2012 Susan Hill (P)2012 Audible Ltd
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
The title is taken from a piece by John Ruskin, referring to certain painters: “If a general and characteristic name were needed for modern landscape art, none better could be invented than the service of clouds."
This book reminded me of an Anita Brookner novel more than anything else, and that isn't a bad thing. Of slow pace, with beautiful literary writing, and good characterization, it is a novel in which not a lot happens. If you like a book with a lot of action and external conflict which moves the plot forward, this won't be a good selection for you.
I found it heartbreaking, sad, intriguing, and highly original. It's a book that plays to Susan Hill's strengths. Well done, and recommended to the reader who enjoys this literary style of novel.
"Not Susan Hill's Finest Work ...... But ........"
....... the story is really good, very intriguing and captivating, however, the narration is very clumsy and even dull in places making the whole experience of listening and getting into the story lines difficult. Therefore I am giving this one only two stars, its not on a par with Susan Hill's other works but it still a good eery story just wish it was better read aloud with voices and character that's all.
"Not her best"
I have listened/ read a number of Susan Hill's books with enjoyment but this on is not up to the high standard I expect. Slow to start ... I've given up at chapter 3
"boring and dull"
I did not enjoy this novel and felt it was well below the usual standard of Susan Hill. It took too long to come to any cohesive point and it simply felt like a mismatch of dull, boring and less than normal characters who did not ultimately bring any life to the plot. Very disappointing and couldn't wait for the end to come.
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