"This short novella is the story of a love affair. A young man goes up to Edinburgh University. Lonely, he writes letters to his mother and to his best friend Paul. He tells them about the city, about the people he has met, the books he has read. Then one day he meets a girl, Kate. Almost from that moment he is lost. Intoxicated, agonized, his love for Kate becomes all consuming, obsessive. He believes she loves him too, but she is already committed to another, and his focus changes to an intense exploration of what love really means.Astonishing in its intensity and the beauty of its language, The Cloud of Dust has all the makings of a cult bestseller"
This novella is frustrating and enriching at the same time. It is the story of first love experienced by an undergraduate at Edinburgh University. He is also the narrator and, according to the cover copy, the author - so we are in the post-modern world of so-called truth dressed up as so-called fiction. The story is revealed through a series of letters which the narrator sends to his Mother and a friend called Paul. He chronicles the growth of an obsessive passion with Kate, a fellow student whom he discovers, too late, is already seriously involved with another man. Charlie, our narrator, therefore explores the solitude of his emotional landscape, mainly through literature and anecdotal nuggets of information about life in Edinburgh. He quotes extensively to his poor friend Paul, who is always being recommended the most obscure (and pretentious) of texts. This heavy reliance on his literary forefathers fails to give his novella the same stature. Which is a shame because there are moments of startling perception and enough lyrical writing in a story which is generally powerful enough to have sustained itself without these associations. (Kirkus UK)