The novel is divided into six sections with five point-of-view first-person narrators. Anchorites, who derive their immortality from murdering others, cloud atlas novel pdf download the Horologists, who are naturally able to reincarnate. The title refers to a pejorative term that the immortal characters of the book use to refer to normal humans, who are doomed to mortality because of their aging bodies. Fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home to live with her twenty-four-year-old boyfriend.
Before she leaves, her younger brother Jacko hands her a maze and tells her to memorize it. Arriving at her boyfriend’s home Holly finds him in bed with her best friend. She nevertheless decides to keep running away and meets an older woman called Esther Little who gives her green tea in exchange for “asylum” which Holly consents to thinking she’s insane. Holly, who was once plagued by auditory hallucinations, then has a violent daymare involving her brother Jacko and several of the violent voices she recognizes from childhood. Afterwards she encounters Ed Brubeck, an acquaintance, who feeds her and helps shelter her. He talks about working on a strawberry farm in Kent.
Holly decides to go to the farm and, after securing a job by phone, hitchhikes towards the farm. She is picked up by a young college-aged couple, Heidi and Ian, who believe in communism and who take her to their home. After breakfast Holly washes up and then goes outside where she finds the couple dead. She is then attacked by a man called Rhîmes who mistakes her for Esther Little but soon comes to realize she has no powers at all. Rhîmes then tries to kill Holly but is stopped by the reanimated corpse of first Heidi and later Ian. Holly realizes that Ian is in fact Esther Little who has come to claim sanctuary. Esther embeds herself in Holly’s brain but erases the incident from her memory.
Holly makes her way to the strawberry farm. While there she hears the news of Heidi and Ian’s death but is unable to connect it with herself. She meets a young woman called Gwyn who says that she was once a runaway too and that unless things are violently bad she should return home. While Holly is considering it, Ed Brubeck arrives having guessed where she is and tells her she needs to return home as Jacko is missing and the police are not treating the case seriously as they believe he is with Holly. Immaculée Constantin at a choir rehearsal, who tells him that immortality is possible.
Hugo then blacks out for two hours. At a local pub, he re-encounters Elijah D’Arnoq, a New Zealander he met in his first year, and persuades the aristocratic Jonny Penhaligon to join a poker match at the end of term. 15,000 through gambling and with his once prestigious family already deeply in debt, reluctantly agrees. Hugo persuades himself that the encounters were his own imagination. Christmas holidays where an attractive bar manager, Holly Sykes, catches his eye, and he tries to win her over with some small degree of success. On December 30, he receives a call from Cheeseman, who informs him that Jonny has committed suicide by driving his father’s Aston off a cliff, with an inquest forthcoming. On New Year’s Eve, annoyed by his friends picking up women who he suspects to be prostitutes and rattled by accusations of theft and fraud, Hugo rings in the New Year at the bar Holly works at.