A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
August 26, 2009 § 13 Comments
I think this book has been very aptly titled. The story is so quiet, so serene, it does really feel like when you see the pale view of hills. You can just see the outline of the hills, some parts more vague than others, and you can also just pick out the very subtle shadows cast.
The main character in this story is a Japanese woman called Etsuko. The story starts with the suicide of Etsuko’s eldest daughter, but hardly does it dwell on this. Rather, the story is mainly about Etsuko’s memories of life back when she was still in Japan (she now resides in England), during the time just after the Second World War.
Back then, she gets to know a woman named Sachiko, and her daughter Mariko. Both these characters are a little ‘out there’, a little weird and rather disturbed pair. According to Etsuko’s recollection, Sachiko hardly seems like the perfect role model for motherhood, what with leaving Mariko to her own wits and letting her wander around outside even after dark, and during such dangerous times. But there is a certain flavour to this mother-daughter pair that I find quite enchanting. Though it may not be obvious at the first, a different kind of bond between them seems to slowly appear towards the end.
These recollections of memories is, again, very much like looking at the pale view of hills faraway in the distance. You can never tell for sure if what you see is indeed what truly is, some of the view is blocked, some just vaguely visible, and more often than not, our minds tend to ‘fill in the gaps’ that our memories leave out. In the essence of it, perhaps Etsuko feels that way about her memories as well.
Reading this book was a good experience for me, but I have this feeling that I have not gotten some of what the author might have intended. Somehow, it feels like there are certain parts of the story that have been lost on me. But still, it had me fully immersed.
Conclusion: 4/5. This is a very quiet book, told in a rather quiet manner. All very subdued.