Study Guide

Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah

The Kindness of Strangers

Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah, is such an insignificant character that we'd be tempted to ignore her, were she not one of the few kind-hearted people in the book. Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah, comforts Luisa in the hotel after Sixsmith is killed. Sure, Luisa is only pretending to be Sixsmith's distraught niece, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah, selflessly steps up to comfort a stranger.

When Luisa says to her, "You're a very special person, Janice [from Esphigmenou, Utah]" (3.20.16), we have to agree. Janice from Esphigmenou, Utah, shows how tragedy can bring some people together, even if they do come from the unlikeliest places, like towns with unpronounceable names. We wonder if everyone in Esphigmenou, Utah, is as nice as... what? It's not even real? Esphigmenou is just a monastery in Greece?

You tricked us, Janice. You're probably from Boring, Oregon. Still, you're a sweetheart, and we appreciate it. And maybe it does mean something that your hometown, fake as it is, is named after a monastery. It's nice to see some good, decent people in a story populated almost exclusively with some truly despicable villains.