I have been remiss in my book reviewing, partially due to the fact I haven’t been following my 2011 reading list (what a revelation). However, I hope to dispose of most of the overdue book reviews this January.
One word to describe these two books: heartbreaking. Or perhaps two words to describe these two books: quietly devastating. Never Let Me Go opens with the narrator, Kathy, vaguely discussing her vocation as a ‘carer’ and having various flashbacks, and so The Remains of the Day begins, with Stevens discussing his duties as a ‘butler’ and reminiscing about the days he served the inestimably great Lord Darlington. They both undergo journeys in which perhaps the rosy picture presented in the beginning begins to reveal itself as faded and even, shameful. Yet to the end, this rosy picture is perpetuated, and it is only with a creeping sense of doom we grow to realize the sadness of both novels. The revelations that Mr. Ishiguro presents to us are not shocks, they are rather natural consequences, natural endings to the subtle climax. That is where I am all rather in awe of Mr. Ishiguro; he can creep up the ending without us ever knowing it– nothing exciting is particularly happening, but we still wish to follow along and the end reaches us before we are actually finished giving up our connection to the novel, before we prepare ourselves for an ending, a happy, hopeful ending. He does not leave us in a cliffhanger, exactly, but he leaves us with unsettlement. WiIth beautiful, beautiful prose, and almost languid construction of grammar, Mr. Ishiguro, disturbs our peace, he stirs some shameful, sick emotion.
Verdict: attempt to read one of these books to the very end, even if initially boring. For those who fear the lack of ‘exciting’ events and want more of a cushy read, try Never Let Me Go, it is more sentimental and a bit more relatable. For those who have an interest in the English society of great lords and great houses, The Remains of the Day is recommended. I usually never purchase books, but I did purchase The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, so Mr. Ishiguro really is worth taking a look at sometime.