Natural flights of the human mind
Clare Morrall.

With her debut novel, Astonishing Splashes Of Colour, Clare Morrall picked up a sought-after short-listing for the Booker Prize. Now her new offering, Natural Flights Of The Human Mind, proves this was no flash in the pan.

Beautifully told, Morrall deftly draws the reader in with this touching story of two misfits whose accidental meeting brings them both back to life.

Peter Straker lives a life of carefully constructed routine, alone in a disused lighthouse, where his only company is two cats and the voices of 78 people he believes he killed 24 years ago.

When Imogen Doody, a school caretaker aggressively chasing her own solitude after a string of tragedies in her past, inherits a dilapidated cottage nearby, the two find themselves unwittingly and unwillingly brought together as they repair the damage.

As the discovery of an old plane forces them both to confront their pasts, the 25th anniversary of the deaths approaches.

Morrall delicately balances all the strands of the story, teasing the reader with half-understood knowledge, before bringing them to a moving climax.

Poignant without being sentimental, it's also surprisingly funny, and never less than believable. Even the loose ends are neatly tied up without it smacking of any contrived effort. Cathy Winston