Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Part 8: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish

By David Mitchell

Part 8: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish

  • When we last left Timothy Cavendish, he was prisoner in Aurora House. Now he's also prisoner in his own mind, recovering from a stroke.
  • When his memory and faculties return, Cavendish kind of wishes they didn't, since he's still a prisoner in Aurora House.
  • While trying to figure out a way to bust out, Cavendish starts editing The First Luisa Rey Mystery. Problem: the manuscript runs out of pages right after Rey is run off a bridge. Hey, that happened to us, too.
  • On a walk around the grounds, Cavendish meets Ernie Blacksmith and Veronica Costello in the boiler room. As far as Aurora House residents go, these two have their stuff together.
  • Ernie points out that Mrs. Hotchkiss's son always leaves his keys in the ignition when he visits. Hmm... why would he mention that?
  • Cavendish ends up going down a different route for his first escape plan. In the middle of the night, he crawls into Noakes's office and uses the phone.
  • The Cavendish Publishing line has been disconnected, so he calls up his brother.
  • Georgette, Denny's daffy wife, picks up the phone and tells him that Denny died. He had a stroke and drowned in the carp pond.
  • Before Cavendish can think this through, Withers shows up and disconnects the phone.
  • The next morning, Noakes calls everyone into one room and they give him a public shaming. Everyone lines up and points and says, "Shame on you!" (8.1.100).
  • They refuse to listen to Cavendish, who is trying that tell them that brother died, and they put him on probation.
  • Ernie is mad at Cavendish because everyone's phone privileges have been taken away.
  • Ernie also suggests that Noakes caused Cavendish's stroke by drugging his food.
  • Cavendish doesn't believe him. They fight like children, and Cavendish doesn't return to the boiler room for a few days.
  • When Cavendish stops being childish and apologizes to Ernie, they cook up their big escape plan.
  • First, Cavendish calls Mrs. Hotchkiss's son, Johns, and tells him that his mother is dying and talking about the jewels she hid. Desperate to get his hands on them, Johns rushes to Aurora House.
  • Second, Ernie tells Nurse Noakes that Cavendish has died in his bed. Cavendish hides in Mr. Meeks's room, and when Noakes goes into his room, he locks her in. Cavendish and Mr. Meeks nail the door shut.
  • Third, when Johns Hotchkiss and his wife arrive, Veronica lets them in and tells them his mother is in her room.
  • When Hotchkiss goes inside, Veronica, Ernie, and Cavendish hop into his car to make their grand escape.
  • Problem: Hotchkiss's wife was driving, and she didn't leave the keys in the ignition.
  • Veronica finds a spare set under the sun flap, and they're off.
  • Cavendish, Veronica, and Ernie bash through the front gates and drive away from Aurora House into the night.
  • The gang stops at a pub called the Hanged Edward and, with Johns Hotchkiss's wallet, buy a round of drinks for themselves—and for Mr. Meeks, who stowed along.
  • While drinking, the gang decides to finish planning their route. Unfortunately, Cavendish realizes that he left the map in his room. With a giant X on it as to where they were going. With Nurse Noakes.
  • Withers shows up with Johns Hotchkiss and an unidentified thug in overalls. Before they can get their mitts on Cavendish and his crew, Mr. Meeks, who has previously only uttered two words—"I know"—over and over again, stands up an shouts in a Scottish accent: "Those there English gerrrrunts are trampling o'er ma God-gi'en rrraights!" (8.1.310).
  • The entire pub, riled up by a World Cup soccer match, jumps in to save the day, beating the living tar out of Johns Hotchkiss, Withers, and his pals.
  • Ernie, Veronica, and Meeks part with Cavendish in Glasgow. Instead of heading back to London, Cavendish decides to stay in the north country.
  • He calls Mrs. Latham and discovers she caught the Hoggins brothers on video breaking into Cavendish Publishing, and now they're in a jail, too.
  • Plus, Knuckle Sandwich has been optioned for a film, and Cavendish will get a good chunk of the proceeds.
  • On top of all that, Hilary V. Hush turns out to be a dude named Vincent, and he mails Cavendish the second half of Half-Lives—The First Luisa Rey Mystery.
  • And on we go...