I wasn't particularly interested in reading this title, but I am presenting Liam Callanan's second book All Saints at a workshop so I felt that I needed to be conversant with The Cloud Atlas as well. As it turns out both books are amazing and Liam Callanan is certainly a writer to watch.
In one of the strangest episodes of World War II, the Japanese created rice paper balloons with bombs attached, which often reached the shores of North America and sometimes detonated and sometimes did not. Thrust into these events, 18-year old Sergeant Belk is seduced by the mysteries and secrets of Alaska. He falls under the spell of Lily, a Yup'ik Eskimo woman and her lover, who is also his Superior Officer.
As in All Saints the story travels backwards and forwards in time seamlessly. The 18 year old boy is now a Catholic Priest looking back over his life. Perhaps the book is his final confession.
NOTE: Not to be confused with David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.