'What if you looked up at just the right moment and saw - out of the corner of your eye - something unexpected? What if it was something so marvellous, so extraordinary, that it transformed time and space forever? The Body in the Clouds tells the story of one extraordinary moment - a man falling from the sky, and surviving - and of three men who see it, in different ways and different times, as they stand on the same piece of land. An astronomer in the late 1700s, a bridgeworker in the 1930s, an expatriate banker returning home in the early 21st century: all three are transformed by one magical event. All are searching for the same thing: how to understand what it means to call a place home, and how be able to tell when you get there.
The Body in the Clouds is a luminous novel about the power of story: the stories that define who and where we are. And the stories we tell - and have told, and will tell - for the people we love.' (From the publisher's website.)
Epigraph: ...In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
...the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
-W.H. Auden, 'Musee des Beaux Arts'
...That they have some idea of a future state appears from their belief in spirits, and from saying that the bones of the dead are in the graves, but the body in the clouds: and the question has been asked, do the white men go tither?
Governor Arthur Phillip to Lord Sydney, 13 February 1790