Perhaps some of these apparent loose ends are tied up in the digital edition of Arcadia, available as an app that includes both extra material and tools for tracking the storylines. That said, most readers will probably prefer the carefully orchestrated book version. “Qui moderatur tempus intelligit omnia,” goes the Lytten family motto: 'He who controls time understands everything.' Doesn’t that actually describe the art of plot construction and its master, Iain Pears?
The allusiveness of this novel, both explicit and implicit, is a major part of its allure. While its narrative can be enjoyed purely on a surface level, it resonates so cleverly and deeply with so many other works that it both borrows their luminosity and confers its own newer radiance on its predecessors.
...while there’s usually a pleasurable sense that the numerous narrative entanglements are well designed and just perplexing enough to inspire curiosity (for the most part), the physical landscapes often feel anonymous and inexplicit ... Not quite so successfully, Arcadia leads readers into an escalating series of interconnected textual worlds and deliberately avoids helping them to achieve any final utopian vision. Find your own way home, this book seems to tell them.
In Arcadia, these kinds of narrative tools get knocked away one after the next, even without the help of a plot-your-own app. Pears steadily folds and refolds the texture of his narrative, loading it with more and more imbrications until it seems like the superstructure itself will collapse ... The first few of these storytelling high jinks seem forced and somewhat twee. But as Pears steadily builds his multiplicity of stories, his orchestrations become something far more ambitious, a calculated and at times quite droll assault on the very nature of narrative itself.
The pages of Arcadia flip by easily, and there is fun in trying to guess exactly how its different worlds are related. Yet the novel overall has a curious feeling of weightlessness: ideas are thrown together without much compelling detail or texture.
Pears tries to subvert is even stronger in the [companion] app. I would recommend reading the print version, in which the narratives shed reciprocal light on one another as they accrete details together. It is much more fun to puzzle out how all the strands fit together than to read each one linearly, at least for this reader.